How to Stay Safe in Afghanistan

For her own safety, this Western aid worker familiarizes herself with weapons. The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office has a suggestion on how NGO workers can stay safe in Afghanistan. Photo by: Todd Huffman / CC BY Todd HuffmanCC BY

What’s the best measure to ensure the safety of people working for non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan? The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office has a suggestion.

“Neutrality and local acceptance, not the military or the counter-insurgency, have become the dominant factors of security for NGOs in vast areas of the country,” the office said a in a recent report, according to IRIN.

ASNO explained that aid agencies need to seek local acceptance and follow humanitarian principles to avoid risks and be able to enter insecure areas.

Switzerland-based NGO International Assistance Mission said it is doing just that. The group explained that the first six months of its expatriate staff members in Afghanistan are spent learning the local culture, including attending language classes and interacting with Afghan colleagues.

“This gives us a unique way of looking at security, just like local Afghans,” Dirk R. Frans, IAM’s executive director, told IRIN.

IAM began its engagement in Afghanistan in 1996, and none of its staff has been killed due to reasons of affiliation, according to the Afghan Ministry of Economy, which tracks NGOs working in the country.

About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.