Security challenge: Protecting workers who aid those in need
Published: September 1, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Michael O'Neill's education in the security needs of international aid organizations came, literally, at the point of a gun. "Well, guns," elaborated the security director for Save the Children. "Many guns." As an employee of a Red Cross affiliate in Sierra Leone in 1993, O'Neill learned when he was kidnapped by rebel soldiers that there was no protocol in the local organization for protecting employees or dealing with a security crisis. Since then, he's made a career of helping aid groups working in the world's most troubled regions keep their own employees safe, whether from traffic accidents or missile attacks. The question of how well prepared the world's nongovernmental aid organizations are for handling their own security came to the headlines in early August when 17 employees of Paris-based Action Against Hunger were kidnapped and killed in Muttur, Sri Lanka. The government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group each blamed the other for the attack. Since 2000, more than 50 aid workers in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Sudan have been killed in attacks on their vehicles or offices.
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