World Humanitarian Day: delivering humanitarian aid in the changing landscape of safety and security

    Blog by Barry Steyn, CARE International Safety and Security Director


    I?ve been working in the field of safety, security and risk management for the past 20 years, and in my current role for the past year and a half.


    A lot has changed in past two decades; there was a time when humanitarian workers were ?good people doing good work? and were respected and protected as such but those days are gone.


    Unfortunately, we now live in a world where humanitarian workers can be targeted simply because of what they might be perceived to represent. There are many parts of the world where people think humanitarian workers represent something foreign, dangerous and different, and are targeted because of that. Another development has been the massive increase in privatisation of the sector accompanied by private sector security firms and military forces utilizing humanitarian aid to win ?heart and minds?.  We very often do not share the same set of principles with these organisations and this can increase the risk to our staff because we are independent of foreign aims and objectives but sometimes they are not.  The local population on the ground may be hostile to these objectives but all they see are a group of people delivering aid and they cannot be expected to know the difference between us.  When this happens, it is imperative for us to ensure our independence, impartiality and neutrality are well communicated. 


    Also, safety and security are so much more than building fences or walls or managing guards.  It is about risk assessment, good program management, communication and a host of other skills. At the sharp end of safety and security in the field are our emergency and program staff. They understand that good safety and security relies on good program management just as good a programme management implies good safety and security.


    They are the ones that represent us in local communities and bear the burden of upholding our principles and communicating them. 


    They are the ones who are not only risking harsh traveling conditions into hard reached communities, who bear an incredible amount of psychological and physical stress but who also  risk their lives.  It is the type of work that demands courage and sacrifice.


    At CARE, we are lucky that we have a dedicated and experienced team who are striving to make the world a better place and will stop at nothing until this is achieved. 


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