Written for Humanitarian Exchange Magazine by Christine Williamson @dutyofcareint
The safety and security of humanitarian aid workers is arguably in greater jeopardy today than at any time in the history of the humanitarian endeavour. The environment has changed and it takes more than a set of technical skills and a friendly manner to be a successful humanitarian worker. Staff are no longer immune from acts of violence, if indeed they ever truly were, and acceptance strategies, so often adopted, are not always effective in some contexts. International NGOs must comply with minimum legal requirements for a healthy and safe work environment, to ensure that they are not exposing their staff or the organisation to unnecessary and avoidable risk. Avoiding the potentially catastrophic consequences of being found negligent requires an integrated, risk-based approach to security management. This article highlights the main areas of concern and the key ways in which INGOs can mitigate the risks they face.