World Humanitarian Day 2018

This World Humanitarian Day the International NGO Safety Organisation is again calling for urgent measures to protect national staff.

Whether working for National or International NGOs, national staff are the most vulnerable constituting more than 97% of all fatalities, 99% of injuries and 100% of abductions so far this year across the counties we monitor.

Their proximity to conflict zones exposes them to direct violence while limited access to medical and emergency facilities makes them vulnerable to injury and illness.

The pattern is not isolated to any single country or type of activity and evidences a systemic vulnerability.

Preventing armed attacks against NGOs is the underlying solution, but there are small practical changes we can make in our own behaviour that will strengthen the protection of national staff wherever they may be.

To National NGOs:

(i) Break the 'culture of silence' and speak up about the risks involved in delivery. Request funds to mitigate them and walk away from donors and partners who are unwilling to listen.

(ii) Set clear internal risk management regulations, share them with your donors and partners and stick to them. Do not be tempted to break your own rules to obtain funding.

(iii) Develop a strong and professional risk management culture. Being local offers you an advantage but does not make you invulnerable.

(iv) Take full advantage of any support opportunities available to you through INSO, your donors, and your partners.  

To International NGOs:  

(i) Request donor funding for national staff safety measures. Upgrading national staff health insurance is an immediate improvement everyone can make today.

(ii) Focus internal security procedures on national staff safety. These are the most likely cases you will be required to manage.

(iii) Require risk management plans from partners and engage in meaningful capacity building. Avoid partners who do not acknowledge or manage risk.

(iv) Strengthen your local access negotiation capacity, ideally with a full-time position or team. Include funding for this team as a standard part of any funding request.

To Donors:

(i) Offer flexible funding mechanisms for high-risk countries that can balance diligence and delivery with access and security. NGOs need space to pause, extend or alter plans in conflict zones.

(ii) Support NGO access initiatives, including pre-implementation, management and maintenance. Access funding must be flexible and accept that results can be intangible, varied and reversible.

(iii) Reassure NGOs that genuine access negotiations do not violate counter-terror legislation and are an acceptable part of a humanitarian safety and delivery strategy.

(iv) Encourage and support funding requests for dedicated national staff safety measures including training, communication equipment and comprehensive health insurance.

To the United Nations:

(i) Enhance your efforts to deter state violations of international humanitarian law.

(ii) Avoid actions that undermine the real, or perceived, neutrality of NGOs, particularly statements made on behalf of the humanitarian community.

(iii) Strengthen your efforts to secure collective unconditional humanitarian access, especially with non-state armed groups.


All NGOs are reminded to take full advantage of the free support services available to them through INSO including alerts and analysis, coordination meetings, training, crisis assistance and policy support.


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