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Published: January 24, 2017

GISF seeking examples of the impact of counter-terrorism legislation on aid worker security

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NGOs have repeatedly raised concerns about the consequences of counter-terrorism (CT) legislation on their ability to deliver critical humanitarian aid. In order to assist the NGO community, a number of bodies are seeking case studies and examples to provide an evidence base to illustrate these concerns.

In the UK, in order to better coordinate and discuss these concerns, the Home Office will convene a regular Working Group for NGOs (HMG-NGO Working Group) consisting of key government departments and the banking sector to examine issues on a thematic basis, provide an opportunity for discussion and to generate recommendations for improvement.

To support this group, Dr Shima Keene has been recruited by the Home Office and DfID to assist the working group by providing an assessment of the existing challenges faced by NGOs. The aim of this project and the work of the HMG-NGO Working Group to follow is to build consensus among key stakeholders on how to deploy aid in complex and sensitive environments such as Syria.

Examples from across the sector and from multiple stakeholders will support the various actions currently being undertaken to highlight the problems NGOs are facing because of CT legislation.

Therefore, Dr Keene and GISF are currently seeking examples from INGOs about the impact that this legislation has had on humanitarian aid work, particularly on the security of aid workers and programmes (including beneficiaries). For example, when a bank has closed an organisation’s account in a high-risk country and this has forced staff to transport money physically over dangerous borders, thereby placing staff at greater risk.

If your NGO has experienced these types of incidents due to CT legislation and/or bank de-risking, we would appreciate hearing about your experience to build an evidence base. GISF will sanitise any examples to ensure anonymity (if required), removing both individual and organisational details. Please find details below on the type of information that would be helpful for the evidence base. If you have any questions or are able to share examples, please contact Adelicia (eisf-research@eisf.helpful.ws) or Lisa (eisf-director@eisf.helpful.ws).

In order to inform Dr Keene’s report to the working group and UK government officials, please share your information at the latest by the 8th of February.

As guidance only, as much information on the details below would be helpful – of particular importance is information on impact. We realise some of these details can remove anonymity, therefore although we welcome as much information as possible, all the information below is not essential.

1. NGO details

  • Size (e.g., micro/small/medium/large/super major) (by income band, see Charity Commission)
  • Location (e.g., UK charity operating in Syria, Nigeria and Iraq)
  • Muslim or non-Muslim charity

2. Project

  • Brief description of project, including aim
  • Size of project
  • Location of project
  • Local partners involved

3. Nature of Problem

  • Financial (e.g., unable to transfer funds, bank account closed, etc.)
  • Non-financial (e.g., unable to negotiate with non-state armed groups, etc.)

3. Cause of Problem

  • Financial – (i.e., why you were unable to transfer funds, etc.)
  • Restricted access for negotiation
  • Vetting

4. Resolution

  • How did you resolve this problem? (e.g., found another way of transferring funds, spoke with the community, etc.)

5. Impact

  • How did this problem impact the project?
  • Were there any security implications as a result?
  • Were staff threatened physically? If so, what was the nature of the threat and how serious was it?
  • How did this impact beneficiaries?
  • Was anyone injured or worse?
  • What was the scale of the problem?
  • How did this delay affect your ability to operate in the area?
  • If it caused a delay, how long was the delay and what was the impact of that delay?
  • If it resulted in carrying large volumes of cash across borders, what kind of challenges and security risks/incidents did you face as a result of this?