International NGO Safety Organisation

Terms and definitions

Data driven analysis

The terms and definitions provided here are intended for general information purposes only. If your intended use requires a more detailed understanding, please contact our Global Analysis & Research Team

Data source & organisation

All data is sourced from INSO’s Conflict and Humanitarian Data Centre (CHDC).


CHDC is the central incident database for the humanitarian community, used by hundreds of operational organisations globally. It contains over a million entries with up to 10,000 new incidents added monthly across the countries covered by INSO.


Primary incident data is collected and verified by our field teams and undergoes several layers of review (at field and HQ levels) before going live in CHDC. Incidents are coded by four principal categories – Actor, Act, Location, and Impact – and several hundred hierarchically nested subsystems such as the specific group involved, the type of weapon used or the nationality of those affected.


While direct access to the CHDC is restricted, the dashboards on this site are connected to it and are intended to support anyone with a need for reliable conflict and humanitarian data, including researchers, academics, journalists, policy makers and the general public.

NGO data dashboard

The NGO Dashboard displays “security incidents affecting NGOs”, this means:


Security incidents: An Act, perpetrated by an Actor in a Location with an Impact. This corresponds to the CHDC Act categories of Attack, Confine, Theft or Threat only as they are the ones that actively cause harm. It includes all Actors, Locations and Impacts.


Affecting: An NGO was involved or affected in the incident. This could be directly or indirectly or as the intended or unintended victim. The involvement may or may not have resulted in any impact such as loss of life or damage to property (f.e an NGO that receives a threatening letter)


NGOs: Legally established non-profit entities (charity in the UK, 501(c)3 in USA, ASBL in EU etc) working for the relief and development of people in need on the basis of neutrality, independence and impartiality. It also includes the Red Cross but does not include any UN agencies which we treat separately.


NGO staff: The people working for NGOs with some important exclusions, such as daily laborer, contracted trucking and embeds (f.e from PSCs or Government).



The dashboard also includes a section on the assessed cause of/motivation for the NGO incident which covers:


Targeted/Work Related: Where we assess the incident intended to target the NGO specifically due to some characteristics of their work, such as the type of programming.


Personal: Where we assess that the victim’s NGO profile was incidental to the incident and that they were targeted for some personal characteristic or act, like a family dispute.


Collateral: Where we assess that the NGO or NGO workers involvement in the incident was entirely incidental/accidental and not related to either their professional or personal characteristics.

Conflict Data Dashboard

The Conflict Data Dashboard displays “all recorded security incidents” which means it shows all the ‘Security incidents’ (see above) recorded by INSO and not only those that affected NGOs.

Common terms in both dashboards

Incident Category/Type

Attack: A type of Act in which an Actor attacks another Actor usually with intent to cause death or injury. This includes armed attacks like airstrikes, IED and shootings and melee attacks such as with machetes, clubs and by hand.


Confine: A type of Act in which an Actor confines another Actor against their will. This includes Abductions and Unlawful Detentions, Arrests, Vehicle Check Points, Forced Transportation and Access Denial.


Theft: A type of Act in which an Actor takes something from another Actor without their permission. This includes Armed and Unarmed Robberies, Burglaries, Frauds and Looting.


Threat: A type of Act in which an Actor threatens another Actor. This includes armed and unarmed threats (where there is no attack), verbal and written threats (such as Nightletters) and specific bomb and sexual threats.


OAG: Organised Armed Group is INSO’s terms for any non-State armed group operating with political, social or ideological objectives. They are usually fighting in opposition to the State or for their own vision of life in the territory. It includes groups like the Islamic State, Al-Shabab, ADF-Nalu and ex-Seleka.


Gov: The armed/security forces of the Government of the country, usually meaning the army, air force, police etc


Crime: Any individual criminal or group of criminals. Criminals may be individual petty thieves, small less cohesive ad-hoc groups or may be hierarchically organized, heavily armed with hundreds of members and engaged in armed conflict for control of territory.