Study: Host States Key in Protection of Aid Workers

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October 3, 2013

Host States and Their Impact on Security for Humanitarian Operations, released by Humanitarian Outcomes, aims to explore why major violence against aid workers is increasingly concentrated in a small number of extremely insecure countries. The findings suggest that attacks on humanitarian aid workers are mainly a symptom of state failure as well as a byproduct of war. In order to ensure safety, the report suggests that aid agencies must analyze the potential of the host government to protect aid operations in each specific context. In the same regard, the report suggests that aid workers must assess and respond to their unique local context in forging secure access.

The analysis measured relationships between violence against aid workers and country-specific conditions such as governance indicators, stability measures, conflict events, corruption levels, and other variables. Through multiple regression analysis, the researchers tested the assumption that the presence of active conflict in a host country corresponded to aid worker casualties. The study found a positive correlation between violence against aid workers and the presence and intensity of fighting. It also found that aid workers are at most prolonged risk in contexts where they have been deliberately targeted for violence as a means to economic or political ends. Positive correlations were also found between aid worker violence and low levels of political stability, high ‘state fragility’ scores, institutional weakness of the regime, and low levels of rule of law. The analysis revealed that the type of political regime of the host country did not matter, only its strength and stability. No significant correlation between aid worker killings and the general homicide rate in host countries was found. Nor was there a significant relationship between violence against aid workers and government corruption or openness with society.