A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Two UN Mine Action Program Staff Abducted/Released in Somalia

Somali gunmen seized then quickly released two Scandinavian UN Mine Action Program staff over the weekend. The gunmen kidnapped the pair and a local IMC translator when they stormed the IMC compound in Hudur, Somalia.

Noefolk Nelson and Ulf Felink were released on Saturday hours after they taken. A Somali translator was also released.

Four foreign aid workers, two Italians, a Kenyan and a Briton, abducted in April and May, are still being held by gunmen in Somalia.

U.N. says Somali gunmen release two of its workers
Abducted Scandinavian UN workers released by Somali gunmen (Roundup)

Vacancy - Regional Safety and Security Advisor - Iraq

IRC is seeking a qualified candidate for its Regional Safety and Security Advisor for the Middle East position. While the successful candidate will be based in Erbil, Iraq, they will be responsible for security throughout the region.

Two Merlin staff killed in Afghanistan

On 19 June unidentified armed men killed two Merlin staff members at a medical clinic in Kunduz. Dr. Sayid Masoom, the clinic head, and Mohammad Ewazewaz, the unarmed duty guard for the clinic, were fatally shot in the attack.

You can read Merlin’s statement at the link below.

Vacancy - Operations and Security Manager - Kenya

Hord Relief has a vacancy for an Operations and NGO Security Manager in Kenya. You can find more details at the link below.

Somali gunmen kidnap senior UN aid worker

On 21 June Somali gunmen reportedly seized the head of the UNHCR office in Mogadishu, Somalia. Ten men raided the house of Hassan Mohamed Ali in Elasha, south of the capital on Saturday, according to witnesses.

Reuters Africa
Yahoo News

Justice for Muttur Video

ACF is calling for an international investigation into the Muttur Massacre, the killing of seventeen aid workers in Sri Lanka in 2006. You can help by visiting the Justice for Muttur site.

The WolfGroup

Raj Rana is back online with his new company’s website. The WolfGroup is a consulting group with expertise in civil-military relations, post-conflict peace building, critical incident management, NGO security, risk management, protection and advocacy. Recommended!

Ahmed Rashid on Afghanistan and Pakistan

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid discusses the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan with Charlie Rose. This video is a timely summary of the region’s difficulties.

Vacancy - Research Coordinator for the Security Management Initiative (SMI) - USA

Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research International is looking for a Research Coordinator for the Security Management Initiative.

Don’t let the murder of 17 aid workers go unpunished!

On 4 August 2006, 17 aid workers were murdered in the town of Muttur in Sri Lanka. No one has been held to account for this outrageous slaughter of humanitarians dedicated to feeding the world’s hungry.

ACF is calling for an international investigation in order to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the Muttur massacre and to find those responsible. You can find a link to their petition below. If you can find it in your heart to help please sign it. If you are a blogger please write about it and link to the Justice for Muttur site.

Vacancy - UN Field Security Advisor - Jerusalem

The UN has a vacancy for a Field Security Advisor in Jerusalem.

Vacancy - Logistics/Security Coordinator - Cameroon

IMC anticipates a position for a Logistics/Security Coordinator in Cameroon. More details are available at the IMC website under work with IMC.

Aid Worker Killed in Road Accident in Ethiopia

A volunteer with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was killed in a vehicle accident in Ethiopia on Saturday. 61 year old teacher David Evans was apparently killed after he was struck by a vehicle as he walked with colleagues.


Armed Men Abduct Aid Worker in Somalia

According to Mareeg Online a local representative of CARE International in Somalia was kidnapped in Galguduud Region on Saturday night. According to a member of the Ceel Dheer administration heavily armed men were seen taking the CARE staff member away.

Mareeg online reports that the staff member had received telephone threats prior to the incident.

Somalia: Unidentified men abduct aid worker in central Somalia

Vacancy - NGO Security Officer - DRC

CARE has a vacancy for an NGO Safety and Security Officer for North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Air Strike in Sri Lanka Injures Aid Workers

A number of staff from an INGO consortium were lightly injured as the result of a government air strike in northern Sri Lanka on 14 June. The air strike occurred at around 2:00 PM near the town of Parantan.

Aid workers attending a humanitarian relief planning session were forced to flee when the bombs struck about 100m from their meeting location. Several people were injured is the confusion.

Many aid agencies have offices and warehouses in the Parantan and Kilinochchi town areas.

View Larger Map

Analysis of Competing Hypotheses Software

I came across a very useful little piece of software last week while I was grappling with a particularly sensitive analytical problem. I couldn’t afford to be wrong and I was worried that my biases might mislead me. With that in mind I decided to use Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH). Unfortunately there were so many little bits of evidence that the pen and paper method soon bogged down. A quick search on Google however led me to PARC ACH.

PARC ACH is a rather utilitarian little piece of software. There is no glitz. The UI is basic. Little glitches are inclined to spring up. I can’t seem to get it to print on my MacBook Pro. But what it does it does well.

Screenshot of PARC ACH software

The dirty work of ACH is much easier with the PARC software. It handles both inconsistency and weighted inconsistency scores. You can sort evidence by order addedd, diagnosticity, type, credibility, relevence, or even user criterion. Best of all it comes with a built in ACH tutorial that will guide you through the process if you are a newbie or just a little rusty.

If you hooked your laptop to a large screen monitor or multimedia projector PARC ACH would make a good collaborative tool. The whole team could readily see the effects of changes without being slowed by the need for someone with neat handwriting.

Did I mention that it is free?

NGOs Looted after Rebel Attack in Eastern Chad

Looting has been widespread in the eastern Chadian town of Goz Beida after the town was attacked and seized by rebels over the weekend. Armed men looted several NGO compounds while other compounds were struck by small arms fire. It also appears that one NGO compound burned after fuel supplies caught fire.

EUFOR, deployed to protect Sudanese and Chadian refugees, has reported that it has been providing armed escorts for aid workers seeking shelter in the nearby EUFOR camp.

It is likely that the government will attempt to retake the town over the next couple of days. Any government counter attack will likely be accompanied by air strikes. NGOs should plan accordingly.

Map Showing Location of Goz Beida

Some 300,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled the Darfur conflict live in camps in Eastern Chad. 187,000 Chadians displaced by fighting in Chad have also sought sanctuary in IDP camps in the area.

Rebels attack eastern Chadian town, aid worker says
Officials: Rebels attack in eastern Chad

Gunmen Kill WFP Driver in Somalia

Gunmen have killed a World Food Programme contracted driver in southern Somalia. Hassan Abdi was taking food aid from Mogadishu to the Bay and Bakool regions when he was attacked near Leego village early on 12 June 2008.

Abdi was the third WFP-contracted driver to be killed in Somalia this year.

WFP says gunmen kill driver in Somalia

Aid Workers Attacked by Camp Residents

On 12 June 2008 two aid workers were attacked at De Klerks Oord Centre in South Africa. A man with a knife attempted to attack one Red Cross volunteer before disappearing in the crowd. Another aid worker was slightly hurt when camp residents pelted them with stones, bread and bones.

The De Klerks Oord Centre serves as a shelter for 2,000 immigrants who were displaced by last month's xenophobic violence in Pretoria North.

Vacancy - WFP Security Officers - Italy

WFP seems to have at least one security officer postion available in Italy. This could be your chance for one of those overpaid UN jobs in a nice cozy country. The job details are skimpy but it can’t hurt to check it out.

Abduction of Sri Lankan Aid Worker

Sebastian Goodfellow, a Sri Lankan driver for the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian organization working in Sri Lanka, has not been seen since May 15. It is feared that he has been abducted, possibly by an armed group operating with the tacit support of the security forces.

You can help by going to Amnesty International’s Online Action Center and send a message to President Mahinda Rajapakse and Ambassador Bernard A. B. Goonetilleke.

If you are a blogger please help by linking to the Action Center’s message page.

Vacancy - ANSO Director - Afghanistan

Welthungerhilfe is still seeking someone to fill the position of ANSO Director. This is an influential senior position. The incumbent will have the opportunity to shape the future of the NGO security process in Afghanistan.

ANSO is a project to support security awareness and security management capability amongst, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan with offices in Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-I-Sharif and Kabul.

You can find more details, including how to apply, at the link below.

Gunmen kill senior aid worker, driver in Mogadishu

Mohamed Abdulle Mahdi, the head of the Woman and Child Care aid agency (WOCCA), was killed by unidentified gunmen in Somalia on Wednesday 11 June 2008.

The gunmen opened fire on Mahdi’s car as he was travelling through the Suqbad neighborhood of Mogadishu. Mahdi’s driver was also killed in the incident.

Gunmen kill humanitarian chief, driver in Mogadishu: aid worker
Top Somali aid worker shot dead

30% of aid money is spent on security for aid agencies?

If you read this blog you’ve probably already seen the article above. I almost didn’t read it because it looked like yet another “aid is inefficient and ineffective article”. It was the reference to NGO security costs that caught my eye. According to Integrity Watch Afghanistan, “Between 15 to 30 percent of aid money is spent on security for aid agencies, the IWA report said...”

What? Really? Where did those numbers come from? Given the difficulty I’ve had in finding money for things as simple as burglar resistant doors and decent fencing I really have my doubts.

If you download the full report you’ll see this:

For instance, the contracted security of the Kabul-Kandahar road during its reconstruction* prevented the disarmament of the equivalent of a whole private militia. Serious estimates put the number of armed guards who were used by the aid agencies at tens of thousands. An estimated 15 to 30 percent of aid money has been spent on security.

Maybe that’s where things got confused. To be clear the meaning of the statement “15 to 30 percent of aid money has been spent on security” is nowhere near the same as, “Between 15 to 30 percent of aid money is spent on security for aid agencies...” While considerable donor money might go to ‘security’ in Afghanistan it includes things like security sector reform, demining, counter-narcotics, police training, etc. This is not the same thing as “security for aid agencies.”

I’m pretty confident that aid agencies are not spending 15 to 30 percent of their budgets on their own security. I know mine isn’t. Most NGOs do not use armed guards and security budgets are generally small even if you include what are traditional safety costs.

* To the best of my knowledge the vast majority of the work done on the Kabul-Kandahar road was done by private contractors, not aid workers.

Safer Access gets it!

I can’t believe I never blogged about Safer Access before. Its not that I didn’t know they were there. Its just that somehow I didn’t give them the attention they deserve. That is until I noticed this paragraph on their website.

Safer Access supports the open-source philosophy, and seeks to apply it to humanitarian access issues involving safety and security. Safer Access training documents and best practice are not regarded as proprietary material, and are intended to be shared widely and discussed within the humanitarian community as an open source resource. This philosophy, when applied to vital information and training, reflects our desire to ensure that our support reaches all of those that are in need.

Imagine that. No exclusive copyrights. No caveats. No weasel words. No “if you use our security manual we’ll sic our lawyers on you”. Just open source safety and security information provided for the benefit of the humanitarian community.

Be sure to check out their open source security documents and assessments. There are documents covering topics from personal trauma kits to laptop security as well as security assessments for a number of countries.

Maritime Safety Resources

Today, following on from yesterday’s flight safety resources, we have some maritime links.

The weekly Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report is published by the Office of Naval Intelligence. It contains a summary of recent piracy acts and hostile actions against commercial shipping (including ships transporting relief goods) worldwide.

Anti-Shipping Activity Messages include the locations and descriptive accounts of specific hostile acts against ships and mariners. The reports are useful for recognition, prevention and avoidance of potential hostile activity.

The World Port Index is a good place to find useful information for all but the world’s smallest ports. If you need to be sure that a port can support the ship your evacuation plan relies upon this should be your first stop.

Safer Access has a Safety Guide for Use of Boats in Relief Work. It’s basic but so is boating safety and you might be surprised at what you’ve overlooked.

Vacancy - Senior Operations Manager/NGO Security Coordinator - Afghanistan

The Academy for Educational Development (AED) has a position for a Senior Operations Manager / Security Coordinator in Afghanistan. The position summary is as follows:

Under the direct supervision of AED’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), and working closely with the AED Chiefs of Party (COPs), the Senior Operations Manager/Security Coordinator will ensure that AED staff in Afghanistan can accomplish project goals in a safe and secure manner. Based in Afghanistan, the Security Coordinator will develop a set of minimum safety and security standards, and security procedures and guidelines, in co-ordination with the COPs and AED’s contracted security firm, to be agreed upon by the COO and implemented through existing organizational lines of authority within Afghanistan. The individual will work closely with the AED COPs to ensure adherence to the security standards which will be monitored and reviewed regularly and updated as necessary given the changing security context. He/She will provide ongoing advice and guidance in relation to such things as establishing curfews where needed, money management policies and practice, dealing with checkpoints, tracking systems for staff movement and location, general transport policies and staff preparedness for handling acts of violence. He/She will also liaise with the designated security company to ensure smooth and timely provision of guards, personal security details, armored vehicles, and transport convoys and monitoring staff stress levels, as required.

More details and directions for applying are on the AED website.

Volunteer Aid Worker Killed by 'Freak Wave'

On 3 June 08 an Irish volunteer aid worker drowned in Ghana after a freak wave dragged her out to sea.

Natalie Higgins was paddling with two colleagues at the water's edge when the wave struck and pulled all three into the Gulf of Guinea. A rescue effort managed to save her friends but Natalie was pulled under water. Her body was found a while later.

Natalie had been in Ghana for 10 days as part of what was to be a three month stint with UK-based Projects Abroad.

Body of drowned aid worker flown home.
'Freak wave' killed aid worker.

Vacancy - NGO Security Officer (ARC) - Darfur

The American Refugee Council International is seeking an NGO Security Officer to serve as the security focal point and security advisor for ARC country operations in Darfur.

Desired Qualifications:

• 5 years field security related experience with humanitarian agencies and/or military/peacekeeping experience in insecure and/or hostile environments.
• 2 years supervising national staff.
• Training skills and experience in security/safety related subjects such as threat/risk assessment, security management, personal & organization security awareness, and incident analysis.
• Competency and training experience in field based communications systems such as Codan, IKOM, Barrett, HG, Motorola, BHF, fixed and mobile satellite systems.
• Sudan or Africa experience preferred.
• Ability to work under pressure in an unstable security environment and excellent English oral and written communication skills.

more details

Flight Safety Resources

As an NGO Security Advisor sooner or later someone is going to ask you if it is safe to use a particular airline. While I think it is generally best to leave the assessment to the experts it is obviously not always possible. These resources can help you out.

The EU’s list of airlines banned within the EU (pdf) is a good place to start when assessing airline safety.

The Aviation Safety Network’s Aviation Safety Database is updated every week and contains descriptions of over 12,200 airliner, military transport category aircraft and corporate jet aircraft safety incidents. I find list of incidents by departure/destination airports especially useful when assessing risk.

The FlightSafe Consultants' Airline Safety website can be a very valuable resource but unfortunately it was not working last time I tried it.

Finally you shouldn’t overlook the simple expedient of googling the airline name along with ‘accident’ or ‘safety’.

Old Choices Come Back to Haunt NGOs in Afghanistan.

The Ghosts of Alexander have a great post on the The Politicization and Militarization of Aid to Afghanistan. As the ghosts quite rightly point out the process did not begin in 2001. It began much earlier and NGOs are still feeling the impact today.

To quote the ghosts again, “All it takes is for either the US, the Taliban, the locals or the central government to see it as political and becomes so...” Unfortunately that means your organization’s carefully crafted, acceptance based, security strategy disappears along with your perceived neutrality.

Read the whole post to see how your NGO’s choice of friends in the 80’s might be affecting your security today.

Dates of Religious and Civil Holidays Around the World

As an NGO security officer you’ll need to to account for holidays in your security planning. While its not too difficult for holidays that occur on the same day every year its trickier for variable holidays or those based on another calendar. When Is is a handy resource that indicates the dates of religious and civil holidays around the world several years in advance.

Frontline - Are the Taliban Winning?

In this video from the Frontline Club reporter Hamida Ghafour and author Ahmed Rashid discuss if the Taliban are set to regain control in Afghanistan or if they are they being slowly marginalised.

Vacancy - Regional NGO Security Advisor - Afghanistan/Pakistan

The Norwegian Refugee Council has a position for a Regional Security Advisor for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Zimbabwe Orders All Aid Groups to Suspend Work

Not satisfied with merely stopping CARE’s work in Zimbabwe the government has ordered all aid groups to cease work. This might be a good time for NGOs in Zimbabwe to dust of hibernation/relocation plans, exercise the Crisis Management Team, and review security measures.

More Cartoons and More Threats

A Norwegian newspaper recently published a drawing of a man with Turban, having his clothes open and displaying a t-shirt with the text: "I am Mohammed, no one dares to print me”. The artist says that the half naked caricature represents the naked face of terrorism. However, it is fairly obvious that others may interpret the cartoon differently.
The drawing seems to be circulating quickly on Arabic websites. 

In an apparently unrelated, but likely synergistic threat, AQ seems to include Norway as well as other EU countries on its target list as the story below highlights.

NGOs would be wise to monitor the situation closely. Any indicator of negative reactions to the new cartoon should be taken seriously and any necessary risk reduction and mitigation measures implemented.

Afghanistan Maps

If you need a little cartographic assistance to help you make sense of Afghanistan, Somalia, or world wide opium production, you should check out the Senlis Council’s map page. The maps also make great orientation graphics for senior level decision makers, VIP visitors, and others with short attention spans.

Vacancy - NGO Security Advisor - Gaza

CARE has a position for an NGO Security Advisor/Project Manager for Gaza.

CARE Ordered to Stop Work in Zimbabwe

According to a CARE spokesman Zimbabwe's government has ordered CARE International to suspend its operations in after accusing it of political interference.

Vacancy - NGO security Manager - Chad

Save the Children UK is looking for an experienced French speaking security manager for immediate deployement to Chad for an initial period of 3 months. If interested, please contact Nick Downie (N.Downie(at)savethechildren.org.uk / +44 77 68 92 66 86).

Islamabad Bomb Damages Local NGO

The building of a local NGO, Devolution Trust for Community Empowerment, was damaged in an apparent VBIED attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. Dozens of its staff were reported to have been injured by flying glass. A spokesperson for the NGO said that the organization had been concerned about their location across the street from the embassy.

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