February 2017


The Dangerous Business of Humanitarian Aid

How Aid Organisations Should Go About Providing Safety and Security

With about 280,000 humanitarian aid workers worldwide, the United Nation’s Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that the odds of an aid worker experiencing an attack are 1 in 1,000, making the business of assisting the world’s most vulnerable citizens a very dangerous undertaking.1 The complexity of today’s threat landscape has caused the business of humanitarian action to become more physically dangerous. In 2015 and 2016 alone, 616 aid workers fell victim to violent attacks, 229 of which resulted in death, with the most prevalent acts of intentional violence stemming from armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, IED’s, landmines and assault.2 Overall, the rate of major attacks against aid workers, measured by the number of killings, kidnappings and casualties over the population of aid workers in the field has increased over the past decade in a handful in violent environments. With the highest-risk degree of attacks taking place in: Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and the Central African Republic.