In Fragile Environments, How Aid Workers Can Deliver and Stay Safe

As attacks against aid workers have tripled in the last decade, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday (April 12) unveiled a new study on how to manage risks in volatile environments.

The study, titled ”To Stay and Deliver,” reviews best practices for humanitarian personnel working in insecure communities. A full copy of the report can be found below.

Aid workers should adhere to principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in order to ensure effective delivery of assistance, the report notes. The study also urges aid groups to build ties with, involve, and recruit local residents. 

Speaking against the politicization and militarization of aid, former U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said: “Humanitarian organizations have to be allowed to effectively reach out all parties.” 

“When people in need are deprived of assistance because relief workers are attacked or blocked, we are not faced with a political or diplomatic ‘problem’ - we are faced with an outrage and a criminal act under international and national laws,” Egeland was quoted by Reuters as saying during the launch of the report in New York. 

Meanwhile, a new version of the Sphere Handbook, the blueprint for aid work, is due to be launched on Thursday (April 14). 

The latest version of the handbook includes a new chapter on “protection principles,” which calls on aid groups to take into account the wider impact of their actions as they assist people caught in disasters.

“Humanitarian workers also have a wider responsibility for the human rights of the people they are meant to be helping – such as their right to freedom of movement and their right to a healthy environment,” Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan U.K., said in a statement. “These rights could be limited or violated by the relief they receive, if it is delivered in an inappropriate way.”

Children’s charity Plan U.K. is hosting the launch of new handbook.

Read more development aid news.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.