Attacks against humanitarian personnel have tripled over the past decade, rising to more than 100 deaths each year, with the most of the fatalities occurring in areas where violence has increased significantly, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, according to a United Nations-backed study unveiled today.
Today, humanitarian workers are in some of the most volatile and insecure environments in the world, " said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs as her office released a UN-commissioned independent study on risks facing relief workers entitled To Stay and Deliver.
Even as they come under increasing attack, they find ways to continue delivering life-saving services to populations in need, " said Mr. Amos, who is also the Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which commissioned the study.
Amid mounting insecurity, aid workers have struggled to find ways to reach people in need, according to the study, which was carried out last year and reviews best practices for humanitarians personnel in complex security environments.
The study captures the practices that have enabled organizations to work in high-risk areas, maintain operations and provide protection and life-saving services to people in need.
The report makes it clear that adhering to humanitarian principles " humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence " makes aid delivery more effective. It also explains how humanitarian aid workers manage risk within the UN security management framework, which has evolved from when to leave " to how to stay. "
In the current volatile operating environments, building and maintaining acceptance of local residents is key to managing risk, according to the study. Gaining acceptance by the people where humanitarian aid is delivered is a process that requires continuous dialogue with all interested parties, the report adds.
Humanitarian organizations have to be allowed to effectively reach out all parties, " the former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told reporters at the launch of the report at UN Headquarters. He spoke out against the tendency to politicize and militarize " aid delivery, saying the practice only compromises the neutrality of legitimate humanitarian organizations and puts the staff and work at risk.
The launch of the study in New York was followed by a panel discussion that included Mr. Egeland; Gregory B. Starr, the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security; Kevin Kennedy, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti; and Nic Lee, the Director of the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office.