Tuesday September 2 2014

Attacks on journalists, aid workers must stop

By Simon J. Mone

Wars 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 compels aid agencies to put together resources to help those caught up in war situations. Money for such humanitarian missions comes from donors. It goes to support peoples’ basic needs, education, and health among other interventions.
However, while helping war victims, aid workers have continuously become targets of attack by extremist groups. These attacks have become a major concern for aid agencies.

Even journalists who cover news and human interest stories in war zones have been killed and others severely assaulted. Journalists have had cameras and communication equipment confiscated and vandalised.

Such attacks discourage journalists from war areas and aid workers are also discouraged from delivering services and restoring hope to vulnerable people.
For aid workers to apply themselves freely, the environment in which they operate needs to be safe and secure. This has not, however, been the case. 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 the 460 incidences of violence reported against aid workers in 2013, 155 have been fatal. This impedes service delivery to displaced people and hinders the objectives for which Humanitarian Accountability Partnership principles were established.

Donors’ trust to provide more funding requires that aid agencies account for all resources that they spend. 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 accountable also improves quality of intervention. This reduces the possibility of exploitation and subjecting the needy to abuse.

But such accountability cannot happen if aid workers themselves are forced to flee to safety instead of helping needy people, due to being continuously attack. As a result, they cannot carry out their work as expected.