Despite the fact that humanitarian workers are trying to help populations that experience a natural disaster, live in a warzone, or have other conditions adversely affecting their lives, these individuals are often subjected to injuries, kidnapping, or even death. According to Reiefweb’s (2019) statistics, 155 aid workers were killed between 2017 and 2018, approximately 184 were kidnapped, and many received severe injuries. These statistics require aid workers to review their attitudes towards the safety standards set by organizations such as UNDAC, which were developed to prevent these incidents.
Syria has been in a state of warfare for several years, where the government’s forces fight against the militia, which inevitably affects the civilians. According to Reliefweb (2019), on March 26 in 2018, twenty-six humanitarian workers were killed in this state when the government’s forces took control of Eastern Ghouta. The war action in the area included both the attacks of the military, the use of deadly weapons, and chemical attacks, which caused these deaths. These incidents could have been avoided potentially if the aid workers followed the UN standards of assessing the safety of the situation and acted in accordance to mitigate the risks to their life.
The G.5.1 standard of UNDAC is titled “Personal safety and security,” and it addresses the areas of concern that each team member should be aware of to avoid injury, kidnapping, or death (p. 6). In the introduction to the G.1 section, the UN (2018) manual states that aid workers must understand the potential risk they are facing when entering a hazardous area. Moreover, they should assess and weigh the risk with the potential benefit of their work to determine if there is a need to proceed with their tasks or if they should return to a safe place.
The safety of aid workers is a shared responsibility of the government, team leaders, and the workers themselves. The government of the host state is responsible for the security and safety of the aid workers (UN, 2018). OCHA must oversee the work of these employees and provide them with technical assistance and support when necessary to ensure safety. Moreover, the UN (2018) notes that a team leader is responsible for breaking the personnel about the potential security and safety risks. The team members, on the other hand, have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the security standards and briefing information before they are sent to a location. One of the measures that the UN recommends is the following: “ask people who have just been to the same place and traveled the same route about the security and safety situation. If possible, keep track of incidents on a map” (p. 6). Moreover, the manual requires the aid workers to wear protective equipment, such as helmets and warns about the legal consequences of not doing this.
In summary, this paper addresses the potential and actual risks that humanitarian aid workers face. Mainly, in 2018 twenty-six aid workers were killed in the Syrian warzone. The UN manual addresses this concern by stating that the risks and potential benefits of providing aid at a specific location should always be considered. Moreover, the workers should understand that they are subjecting themselves to danger when they are deployed. The UNDAC standards require team leaders to brief the members about the potential hazards and aid workers to assess the safety around them continuously. Wearing protective equipment is mandatory and can result in legal penalties.
Reliefweb. (2019). Aid workers killed, kidnapped and arrested (KKA) 2018. Reliefweb. Web.
United Nations [UN]. (2018). United Nations disaster assessment and coordination (7th ed.). UN.