The inaugural Humanitarian Environment Individual Safety Training (HEIST) run out of INSO’s new Humanitarian Training Centre (HTC) in Lviv, Ukraine, wrapped up in mid-October 2023. This session saw 16 aid workers from 11 organisations equipped with life-saving skills. It was the first of 36 HEISTs planned for the remainder of 2023 and 2024.
“Aid workers in Ukraine made clear the need for humanitarian personal safety training to equip their staff to operate specifically in this complex, high-risk context. Thanks to the European Commission (DG-ECHO) and USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance funding of this initiative, the HTC will be a resource to the humanitarian community – not just in Ukraine but globally,” says Ermina Strutinschi, INSO Country Director.
INSO’s HTC is the first permanent centre based in a conflict-affected area devoted to in-person safety training for aid workers. It leverages INSO’s vast experience running more than 650 humanitarian safety and access trainings annually in 15 conflict-affected countries and its international expertise in safety and security.
Beyond training, the HTC will serve as a centre of expertise for the humanitarian community. INSO will partner with relevant institutions to conduct on-site action research during sessions. This research will enhance the learning impact of stress-exposure training targeting aid workers and improve considerations regarding participant well-being.
By pooling knowledge from the sector and academia, HTC will reinforce the humanitarian community’s capacity to train its staff and, in turn, improve humanitarian access.
HEIST, the core training offering of the HTC, is a four-day immersive course designed for the most exposed aid workers. Founded on humanitarian principles and through practical exercises and simulations, this stress-exposure training provides skills and tools to help participants prevent, react, and mitigate incidents in insecure environments.
For participants like Dmitry Bokov, Logistics Supervisor with Medicine San Frontiers, this training solidifies the knowledge needed to face the reality of humanitarian work in Ukraine:
“It’s no secret that the work of humanitarian missions always involves a risk to life, as we work in places where people are most in need of help. Understanding safety rules and knowledge of first aid and psychological first aid is very useful. In my opinion, all members of humanitarian organizations should undergo such training.”
Denys Gertsev, an Explosive Ordinance Risk Education Team Lead for Danish Refugee Council in Ukraine, says he has already put what he has learnt to practice:
“I conduct risk awareness sessions related to mines and explosive remnants of war in communities. During travel in the eastern regions of Ukraine, I pass checkpoints, and the knowledge gained during the training allows me to pass them without any problems.”
Like all INSO services, training through the HTC is provided free of charge to participants.
About INSO in Ukraine
International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO) is the largest in-person humanitarian safety and security training provider. INSO’s humanitarian safety services are available to all operational humanitarian organisations and NGOs. INSO Ukraine was established in 2015 to monitor the conflict situation and assist NGOs in responding to humanitarian and development needs in Ukraine after the Russian Federation’s annexation of the parts of Donetsks and Luhanska Oblasts, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Following the full-scale invasion that began on 24 February 2022, INSO has scaled up to a complete platform that provides real-time alerts, coordination, analysis reports and on-demand support to partners nationwide.