Opinion
Attacks on aid workers, journalists bad for humanitarian accountability
Publish Date: Sep 02, 2014
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By Simon J. Mone

War and calamity around the World continue to deprive humanity of peace, basic needs and good health, forcing millions of people to live in dire humanitarian conditions.

This always compels aid agencies to urgently put together resources in order to try and ease the pain of suffering populations.
 
Money for such humanitarian missions always comes from donors. It goes to support peoples’ basic needs, education, and health among other interventions. While helping suffering populations however, aid workers have continuously become targets of attack by extremist groups.
 
These attacks have become a major concern for aid agencies who give their all to try and contain human suffering. Even journalists who follow up and document different interventions, covering news and human interest stories have also been killed and severely assaulted.
 
Their work is being made difficult when they find themselves stopped at checkpoints and denied access to beneficiary communities. Journalists have had cameras and communication equipment confiscated and vandalised. This has discouraged aid workers from delivering services and restoring hope to vulnerable people.
 
For aid workers to apply themselves freely and unhindered, the environment in which they operate needs to be safe and secure. It has however, not worked out the way they would have liked. Recent statistics show increased incidences of attacks on aid workers with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reporting that 2013 saw the highest number of aid workers killed compared to all other years.
 
Of 460 incidences of violence reported against aid workers in 2013, 155 have been fatal. This was said to have triple the number over the last 10 years. The leading offenders are reportedly found in Afghanistan, Syrian Arab Republic, South Sudan, Pakistan and The Sudan.
 
Radical Islamic militants are responsible for this high rise in incidences of aid worker attacks in these countries. They do not allow for free movement of services and workers. This impedes service delivery to displaced people and hinders the objectives for which Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) principles were established. The growing number of displacements means there is added responsibility for aid agencies. Thus there is need for an increase in the number of aid workers who have the courage and commitment to respond to increasingly various complex situations around the World.
 
More personnel are required to join humanitarian efforts in order to save lives and restore hope of people in crises. This also requires funding among other resources.
 
Donors’ trust to provide more funding requires that aid agencies account for all resources that they spend. The HAP process was created to consider different views of beneficiary groups, aid workers and other stakeholders including government, opinion leaders and donor community in aid delivery.
 
Accountability mechanisms enable organisations that work on behalf of vulnerable groups to demonstrate value for money in creating useful change through their interventions. Holding agencies accountability leads to improvements in quality of intervention.
 
This gives satisfaction to vulnerable people. It reduces the possibility of exploitation and subjecting the needy to abuse. Such accountability cannot happen if aid workers themselves are forced to flee to safety instead of focussing efforts in aiding needy people, due to being continuously attacked. In the process they are denied the responsibility account for humanitarian assistance that they provide.
 
HAP principles aim at humanitarian welfare, non-discrimination, impartiality, refraining from taking sides in hostile environments, neutrality, and independence. This, unfortunately is not being given chance to happen. Incessant attacks won’t allow.
 
smone@mail.com

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