Conflict has been the leading driver of humanitarian crises around the world. And in times of conflict, everyone is at risk, including humanitarian workers, who are usually the first to respond in relieving the suffering of people affected by such crises. In this podcast episode of On-air with WorldAware, Jack Cloonan, Head of Special Risks, talks about the threats faced by aid workers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Humanitarian aid organizations, and by extension aid workers, tend to operate in areas where the security environment is severely degraded. Sub-Saharan countries characterized by poverty, violence, and/or inequality present challenging and often hostile working conditions. These conditions undermine the operational effectiveness of aid workers to do their jobs and leave them vulnerable to kidnapping. Listen in to learn more.

 

 

There are a few industry-specific risk mitigation measures available for NGOs and humanitarian aid organizations operating in Sub-Saharan Africa. Humanitarian organizations may resort to unofficial diplomacy to establish community-based support structures and influence conflict actors with the aim of establishing ceasefires. The primary objective of such activities should aim to lessen violence, rather than build peace.  Direct engagement with communities also establishes trust and creates an environment more conducive to maintaining respect for the rights of individuals.  An example of one way to achieve this may be to offer free legal advice on housing and property rights to affected communities or to assist with training with regard to ordinance disposal within a defined area. The safety and operational integrity of NGOs and their personnel rely on their ability to maintain these agreements with local armed actors, which requires adequate resources and finances.

Humanitarian aid organizations should practice duty of care by providing the necessary preparation, guidance, resources and training for staff operating in insecure locations. The threat to aid workers can be reduced by implementing standard operating procedures and crisis response management procedures including but not limited to on site security assessments, operational interventions to manage and mitigate foreseen and unforeseen risks and emergency evacuation protocols.

 

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