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Is terrorism an issue for humanitarian agencies?

1 November 2010

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Is terrorism an issue for humanitarian agencies?

In May 2010 the Security Management Initiative (SMI) at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) convened a group of experts and international aid/humanitarian agency practitioners to consider the impact of ‘terrorism’ on the work of humanitarian agencies. This paper examines three categoty of terrorrist incidents: Attacks against aid agencies by armed opposition groups (AOGs), which includes attacks by a designated terrorist organisation; Incidents in which the delivery of humanitarian aid is affected because staff members are caught in the cross-fire or vital infrastructure is damaged during military action between government forces and armed opposition groups; and Incidents in which governments take administrative decisions that hinder the delivery of aid or events in which law-enforcement agencies intervene in such a way that they obstruct the work of humanitarian agencies. The data show that humanitarian agencies are rarely affected by ‘general terrorist events’. However, the risk of targeted attacks against humanitarian staff and operations in certain countries is real.


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