Q&A: More than bunkers and barbed wire — why security jobs are fascinating

A detachment of Détachement Intégré de Sécurité in charge of the security of aid convoy going to the camps in Chad in 2011. Photo by: F. Noy / UNHCR

WASHINGTON — With the number of attacks against aid workers on the rise, the issue of security in the sector is more important than ever. But many humanitarians view the security professionals who are there to protect them as risk-averse, meddlesome ex-military workers who would rather keep them locked up in their compounds than get them out helping communities.

But this is far from true, according to Lisa Reilly, director of the European Interagency Security Forum — a network of security representatives for European humanitarian NGOs. She paints a very different picture of what it’s like to be a security risk manager in the humanitarian sector and why security can be a rewarding, but often overlooked, career option.