AID WORKERS IN HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS

As recent as (*1) 16th May 2020, the deaths of three aid workers in Pieri (South Sudan) were reported amidst intercommunal violence. One of the victims was a staff member from Medecins Sans Frontiere, and the other two victims were employed by additional humanitarian organisations. The (*2) World Health Organisation’s (WHO), Dr. Olushayo Olu, is managing the COVID-19 response within South Sudan, which is high on the government’s agenda to prevent deaths and utilise timely testing to help control its transmissibility. Unfortunately, the presence of COVID-19 and its complexities has overshadowed the importance of finding whoever has killed the aid workers and injured many others.

Of course, we must not lose sight of the significance of the work provided by aid workers, whose mission is of a humanitarian nature and are present in hostile regions to help make better the lives of those inhabitants. Therefore, it is incumbent upon our society to provide the most relevant safety training to those aid workers, who choose to travel to developing countries, as part of their work. Many of the developing countries present an elevated risk, perhaps due to the presence of landmines, IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), kidnapping, threat of ambush or being taken hostage, carjacking, or violent clashes between groups. Such risks may often result in violent deaths and according to the (*3) WHO World Report on Violence and Health, over 1.6 million people each year lose their lives to violence. Most disturbingly, violence is among the leading causes of death among people aged between 15 – 44 years, so for people who travel to countries with a high risk of danger, it’s even more imperative that they are able to protect themselves in a conflict situation.

Let us look at the Foreword of the WHO World Report on Violence and Health, written by Nelson Mandela with wisdom and compassion, as follows:-

“This report makes a major contribution to our understanding of violence and its impact on societies. It illuminates the different faces of violence, from the “invisible” suffering of society’s most vulnerable individuals to the all-too-visible tragedy of societies in conflict. It advances our analysis of the factors that lead to violence, and the possible responses of different sectors of society. And in doing so, it reminds us that safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment.”

Therefore, when we hear reports of aid workers being killed, whilst working in hostile environments, we need to carefully analyse the factors involved, even though these are often of Byzantine complexity. From the UK perspective, nearly 300 aid workers and health workers were killed in conflict zones in 2018, while more than 850 were injured in almost 1200 attacks. This statistic translates into over 23 attacks per week, which is unacceptable, and is why Parliamentarians have stated that the overall dangers for UK aid workers appear to be rising.

By being aware of the menaces faced by aid workers, whilst overseas in antagonistic regions, means we can convert any analysis into more relevant and germane safety training courses. These attentively-designed courses can prepare our aid workers for any prevailing challenges they may face, when they travel overseas into hostile environments.

At Staff Defence, our Travel Safe H.E.A.T. (Hostile Environment Awareness Training) course is specifically designed for individuals, including aid workers, who are deployed overseas into a hostile environment. We keep ourselves up-to-date with the facts and figures, pertaining to threats and challenges faced by people, who work in conflict situations. Using this data, we have designed the H.E.A.T. course, so that each person receives the type of training that fully prepares him/her on arrival into a hostile environment. We don’t subscribe to a purely “classroom” approach to the delivery of this course. Instead, we combine the required theoretical aspect with fully-immersive role-play scenarios that foster quick-thinking and decisive actions, which each Delegate is trained to replicate, should the situation arise in real-life, while overseas. This is what “real-world training” is all about. Text-book responses are not likely to save a person’s life, as opposed to being taught experientially how to respond effectively when faced with a crisis. Bearing this in mind, we strongly recommend that, if you are assigned overseas to a developing country, consider our H.E.A.T. course, which is set in a fantastic location in Pippingford. Please visit our website to review the H.E.A.T. course at:

W: https://staffdefence.co.uk/course/h-e-a-t-course/

You are welcome to book a place on our H.E.A.T. course by completing the Enquiry Form on our website.

References:

(*1) South Sudan: Aid Workers Killed in Pieri (Jonglei state) May 16th Update – https://www.garda.com

(*2) WHO Africa: South Sudan Strengthens Reporting of Deaths due to COVID-19 – https://www.afro.who.int/news/south-sudan-strengthens-reporting-deaths-due-covid-19

(*3) WHO World Report on Violence and Health (2002) – https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/en/abstract_en.pdf