A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Death of aid worker

Attackers target UN staff in Kabul guest house

Yesterday Taliban militants wearing police uniforms carried out a complex suicide attack on a privately owned guest house in Kabul. A two hour fire fight resulted in the deaths of six UN staff members.

This video from STRATFOR has a quick summary and analysis of the attack. Its well worth watching if you have the bandwidth.

In the aftermath of this attack we are already seeing the inevitable calls for a complete review of security procedures for UN and NGO staff in Kabul. There will be a flurry of activity as outside security consultants are called in and security assessment teams from regional NGO offices descend on Kabul. Numerous reports will be written, fingers will be pointed, and a couple of people may even lose their jobs. Unfortunately many will come to the conclusion that this incident was an unanticipated and unforeseen escalation of the threat.

The problem is that it is just not true. The writing has been on the wall for the past two years. There have been numerous incidents of surveillance on UN and NGO buildings and staff. The Taliban and their allies have also repeatedly made it clear, both in word and deed, that they do not view the UN and most NGOs as neutral.

Selected Attacks, Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2009

1 Feb 2009 - Charbagh, Pakistan - Two MSF medical staff were killed when their clearly marked ambulances were fired upon in Charbagh.

2 Feb 2009 - Quetta, Pakistan - A driver with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was killed and John Solecki, the head of the local UNHCR office, was kidnapped.

9 Jun 2009 - Peshawar, Pakistan - 5 U.N. workers are among those killed in a complex suicide attack on the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar.

18 Aug 2009 - Kabul, Afghanistan - Two Afghans working for the U.N. were killed during a suicide vehicle bomb attack on a NATO convoy.

5 Oct 2009 - Islamabad, Pakistan - Five World Food Program (WFP) staff were killed and four others injured after a suicide bomber disguised as a Frontier Corps soldier was allowed to walk into the WFP office under the simple pretext of being allowed to use the toilet. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility with the following words: "We proudly claim the responsibility for the suicide attack at the U.N. office in Islamabad. We will send more bombers for such attacks. The U.N. and other foreign (aid groups) are not working for the interest of Muslims. We are watching their activities. They are infidels."


1. Dig out previous security risk assessments and physical security audits and make sure you've actually implemented the recommendations contained within.
2. If your existing security risk assessments and physical security audits are older than six and twelve months respectively update them now.
3. Ensure your Crisis Response Plan is current and practice it quarterly.
4. Implement a counter-surveillance plan.
5. Make sure you have a plan to respond if hostile surveillance is detected. Knowing your organization is being surveilled has little value if you are unable to respond to the fact.
6. Train as many staff as possible in personal counter-surveillance and surveillance detection.
7. Allow flexible work hours and 'work from home' policies.
8. Review access control procedures and ensure that guards are actually following them.
9. Limit visitors and insist on advance appointments.
10. Identify proper medical support.
11. Pull out all the stops on your active acceptance plan. You are unlikely to influence the Taliban and their supporters but you are going to need all the support and goodwill you can get from neighbours, beneficiaries, and local police.

The Future

As governmental and UN organizations continue to improve their security measures to deal with the militant threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan more and more of the risk burden will fall on softer targets, including NGOs. I assess their is a 70 to 80% chance that there will be VBIED or complex attack on an NGO facility in Afghanistan or Pakistan within the next twelve months. Are you ready?

Acceptance, ladders, kindness and WFP

If you read this blog regularly you undoubtedly already know of yesterday's suicide attack the the WFP office in Islamabad. If you somehow missed the news I suggest you take a look at Peter's post on the loss of five of his WFP colleagues. This brief coverage from Dawn news should also help bring you up to speed.

At this point there isn't much purpose in rehashing the copious news coverage of this tragedy but it might be worth looking for some tentative security lessons. I'm somewhat hesitant to do so for fear that it will be seen as pointing the finger of blame so I'll caveat by saying that is not my intent. I am in no way second guessing those who were forced to make difficult choices based on incomplete and often contradictory information.

No, they really don't like you...

I'm hoping this incident will finally lay to rest the persistent and dangerous myth that there is no evidence that the Taliban and other extremist groups are deliberately targeting the UN and humanitarian organizations in Pakistan. If the kidnapping of
John Solecki, the murder of his driver, the murder of Zil-e-Usman, and numerous death threats were not enough to convince perhaps these words from Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq will:

"We proudly claim the responsibility for the suicide attack at the U.N. office in Islamabad. We will send more bombers for such attacks. The U.N. and other foreign (aid groups) are not working for the interest of Muslims. We are watching their activities. They are infidels."

"The WFP is promoting the US agenda. They are silent on massacres and do not comment on killings in Waziristan and other areas."

Ladders and walls

The attack also highlights one of the limitations of passive physical security measures. As United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano put it, “You build a 50 foot wall, somebody will find a 51 foot ladder.”

Responding to the VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) attacks in Baghdad in 2003, Algiers in 2007 and Hargeisa in 2008 the UN increased passive security measures to deal with the new threat. Significant sums of money were spent building and strengthening blast walls, hardening buildings, installing vehicle barriers and blocking access roads. These measures would have made it much more difficult for extremists to carry out an effective VBIED attack on a UN facility.

In this case however the Taliban adapted to the increased security measures and used the equivalent of Janet's figurative 51 foot ladder, a single suicide bomber with seven or eight kilograms of explosives and ball bearings strapped to his chest. This simple change in tactics accomplished what using a larger VBIED probably would not have. Given the success of this attack we can expect similar attacks in the future.

A small act of kindness

At this early stage in the investigation it appears likely that the suicide bomber, who was wearing a Frontier Corps uniform, was let in to the WFP compound under the pretext of needing to urgently use the washroom. Critics have been quick to
lay blame on the private security company guarding the WFP compound, calling them negligent even before investigations were fully underway. While I agree to some extent I think its important to point out that there was likely simple but brilliant social engineering at play here.

There were 13 private security guards, three Frontier Corps soldiers and two police officers on duty at WFP at the time. I have little doubt that every one of them knows what its like to stand outside under the blazing sun hour after hour only to have the very people they were charged with protecting refuse to provide them water or let them have use of their washroom facilities. Add to this the fact that many private security guards are former Frontier Corps men and it's easy to understand how any one of them might have been willing to bend the rules for what to them appeared to be a brother-in-arms.

The great tragedy of this entire event is that it may have been the result of a small act of kindness. I truly hope it's not the case.

Third aid worker dies in CAR

This Sunday morning brings sad news. According to sources COOPI aid worker Adramane Abdel Karim has died from his injuries. Adramane was severely injured during the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attack on a COOPI vehicle that killed two of his colleagues.

LRA incursions in the Central African Republic (CAR) have intensified since last December when LRA bases in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo were the target of a broad military offensive. Small groups of LRA rebels have since extended their operational range to portions of South Sudan, CAR, and the Congo.

Two aid workers killed in CAR

A child in a rebel camp in northern CAR holding bullet casings
Child with bullet casings in rebel camp.
Credits: Pierre Holtz | UNICEF CAR | hdptcar.net 

Two aid workers with an Italian NGO were killed on 21 September in the Central African Republic when Lord's Resistance Army rebels attacked their vehicle on the Banqui to Obo road.

According to Cooperazione Internazionale's blog Claude Nzapaoko Porcel and Jean Jacques Namkoisse were killed in the attack. A third aid worker, Adramane Abdel Karim, was severely injured and is in critical condition. AFP quotes a military source as saying, "Two other people were wounded by bullets, and five others are missing."

Canadian aid worker murdered in Honduras

Dallas Martens (31), a Canadian volunteer aid worker with the Morgan Jayne Project, an organization dedicated to fighting AIDS, was shot dead by thieves on the island on Roatan in Honduras last Friday.

Dallas and his wfe were returning home after celebrating their first wedding anniversary when Dallas was killed. The couple had stopped to view a house they were considering buying when two masked gunmen appeared from the side of the house. The thieves opened fire, hitting Dallas three times as he tried to protect his wife from the bullets. The gunmen fled with the woman's purse.

The couple moved to Roatan to support the Morgan Jayne Project, which specializes reducing the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of the AIDS virus. The couple also planned to adopt a baby boy they had met while volunteering for the organization the previous year.

The Morgan Jayne Project is trying to raise money to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. More details are available at their website.

Canadian aid worker murdered

NGO worker beaten to death in Dhaka

Swapan Mandal (35) an aid worker with a local NGO died in Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on 13 September after being severely beaten the day prior.

According to police Swapan Mandal and two other men stole money and a mobile phone from a Management Department of Dhaka University student. When the student cried out for help bystanders rushed to intervene, catching Swapan, and beating him severely before handing him over to police.

The Police say they rushed Swapan to DMCH where he died the next morning.

Swapan’s wife however denied the allegations saying that her husband was not a mugger but an NGO worker who worked with local sex workers. She suspects he was tortured. "He has no connection with the mugging," she added.

Aid worker killed in Iraq

Ra'aed Mohammed Saeed (50), an aid worker with the Human Relief Foundation’s office in Mosul, Iraq was ambushed and shot dead near his home on 1 September 2009 according to an HRF statement on the organizations website.

Mr Saeed, 50, was a project co-coordinator involved in the implementation of HRF’s projects including aid distribution and assistance to orphans and widows in northern Iraq. He leaves behind a wife and six children.

Ra'aed Mohammed Saeed

Two UNAMA staff killed in Kabul suicide attack

Two Afghan staff with UNAMA were killed in this morning’s suicide attack in Kabul according to a statement by UN Special Representative Kai Eide.

“I am shocked and greatly saddened to have learned that two of my staff members were among those killed in today’s suicide bombing on Kabul’s Jalalabad Road.

A third colleague has been wounded and is currently being treated for his injuries. All are nationals of Afghanistan.

At this time UNAMA is in the process of contacting the families of our colleagues to inform them of this tragedy. And we will grieve together. I condemn completely those responsible.”

Largely unoticed aid worker deaths in Somalia

Somali IDPs near Mogadishu
Somali IDPs near Mogadishu by Abdurrahman Warsameh for ISN Security Watch

Largely overshadowed by an al-Shabaab attack on a UN compound in Wajid and the looting of an MSF office in Jilib is the news of the death of Omar Ali Alasow, an aid worker with Daryeel Bulsho Guud (DBG). Omar was shot dead as he sat outside a DBG office at an IDP camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

DBG is paying a high price for its work in Somalia. Last year gunmen killed Mohamed Muhamoud Keyre, DBG’s deputy head. In a separate incident Mohamoud Ahmed, a security guard with DBG, was killed when armed men stormed the DBG office in Mogadishu.

Also largely unnoticed was the beheading of four Somali aid workers by al-Shabaab militants earlier this month. According to an ICC report Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi, and Maaddey Diil were killed some time after being abducted from the town of Merca on 27 July. According to an eyewitness account the militants beheaded the four after they refused to convert back to Islam.

All four worked with a local NGO that cared for orphaned children.

Russian NGO and her husband murdered in Chechnya

A Chechen boy stands in the street during the battle for Grozny.
Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev - A Chechen boy stands in the street during the battle for Grozny.

Zarema Sadulayeva, the head of a Russian NGO called Save the Generation, was found dead in Chechnya on Tuesday, 11 August, alongside her husband (Alik Djibralov). The pair had been abducted from the office of their NGO on Monday afternoon. Their bullet ridden bodies were stuffed in the boot of a car in Chernorechye, Grozny.

Save the Generation works with marginalized children to provide them with alternatives to joining local armed groups.

This is the second murder of prominant NGO workers in Chechnya in less than a month. Natalia Estemirova of Memorial Human Rights Center was murdered by unidentified gunmen on 15 July.

Volunteer aid worker murdered in Zanzibar

Children using computers at a Camara sponsored event
Photo credit: Camara

Robert Decourcey Stringer (26), a volunteer aid worker with the Irish charity Camara, was killed during an apparent mugging and robbery in Zanzibar last Friday. Robert's body was discovered on a beach at 0800 AM, 7 August, 2009. He had suffered head injuries and some of his personal possessions were missing.

Robert was on holiday in Zanzibar after completing a five week volunteer mission as a team co-ordinator with Camara's computer training team in Tanzania.

A local man has since been
arrested in connection with the incident.

Camara provides refurbished computers and computer literacy training to schools and colleges in Africa.

Red Crescent aid worker killed in Somali crossfire

ICRC is reporting that an aid worker with the Somali Red Crescent Society was killed in the centre of Mogadishu on 21 July, 2009.

According to ICRC, "Farah Aden Mo'allim was travelling in a public transport vehicle when he was caught in crossfire and hit by a stray bullet. He died instantly, before he could be taken to the nearest hospital."


Caritas aid worker murdered in Congo

On 15 July, Ricky Agusa Sukaka (27), an aid worker with Caritas France was shot and killed in Musezero, North Kivu, according to a Caritas International press release.

The press release goes on to say:

When his colleagues found him, his pockets had been emptied and his Secours Catholique-Caritas France t-shirt removed.

Villagers reported seeing Mr Sukaka, who was a Congolese national, stopped by two men wearing Congolese army uniforms before he was killed.

Refuse pit in center of Congo IDP camp

Afghan aid worker killed in neighbourhood dispute

On 18 July 2009, an Afghan driver working for an INGO in Jalalabad was shot and killed during an apparent neighbourhood dispute. While the exact circumstances surrounding the case are unclear (as is usual in Afghanistan) it does not appear that the incident was related to the driver’s work with the INGO.

The driver’s son was badly beaten during the incident.

Human rights activist murdered in Russia

On 15 July 2009, Ms. Natalia Estemirova, a social worker and human rights advocate with the Russian NGO Memorial Human Rights Center was abducted and murdered by unknown assailants. According to a Human Rights Watch report Ms. Estemirova was forced into a white van as she left her apartment in Grozny at 8:30 in the morning. Her body was later found on a roadside in Ingushetia with two gunshot wounds to the head.


Read the BBC’s obituary for Ms. Estimirova for more on the life and work of this award-winning champion of human rights.

UN staffer killed in apparent kidnapping attempt in Pakistan

On 16 July 2009, gunmen killed Zil-e-Usman, a Pakistani working for UNHCR, just outside the agency's field office at Kacha Gari refugee camp, near Peshawar. According to UN and Pakistani officials the incident appears to have been a botched kidnapping attempt.

Usman (59) had worked for the UN for 30 years. A guard at the IDP camp was also killed.

The Kacha Garhi IDP camp mainly hosts Pakistani’s uprooted by the ongoing fighting between Pakistani forces and Taliban militants in the Bajaur tribal area.

NGO security guard killed in crossfire in Afghanistan

On 6 July, an off duty security guard working with an undisclosed INGO was killed during a clash between Coalition forces and Afghan militants in the area of Khada Khel village, Sherzad District, Nangarhar Province.

Source: ANSO

Afghan aid worker murdered in Afghanistan

On 11 July an Afghan aid worker working for an undisclosed INGO in Afghanistan was shot to death by armed men who broke in to his residence in the Dare Kalan area of Kapisa province. The circumstances surrounding the death are unclear.

Source: ANSO

NGO staffer strangled in Bangladesh

Late on Sunday, 12 July, a female NGO staff member was strangled to death in an apparent robbery and rape attempt in Bangladesh. Four assailants attacked Sheuli Akhter, 30, as she was returning home in the evening in Dadpur village at Boalmari upazila in Faridpur. The attackers stole her mobile phone after apparently trying and failing to rape her.

Ms. Akhter worked as an assistant accountant with the Boalmari office of Social Development Committee, a Bangladeshi NGO.

Three aid workers killed in Afghan IED attack

On 23 June 2009 three Afghan aid workers with Development and Humanitarian Services for Afghanistan were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Jowzjan province, Afghanistan.

The three aid workers, two engineers and a driver, were returning from a project site in the district of Aqcha (Aqcheh) when their car was struck by the remotely detonated IED. The massive explosion killed the trio instantly.

US aid worker murdered in Mauritania

An American humanitarian aid worker was shot and killed by suspected Al Qaeda militants in the Mauritanian capital Tuesday.

Christopher Lenget, the director of a school for computer science, was getting out of his car in front of the school, when two young men tried to kidnap him. He apparently resisted and was shot in the process.

Aid workers killed in Sri Lanka

On 13 May, Red Cross worker Majurin Sivakurunathan was killed in the crossfire alongside his mother according to an ICRC spokeswoman speaking to CNN. On 8 May an unnamed Sri Lankan aid worker with Caritas Australia was killed during a government artillery attack on the “No Fire Zone” in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka. Two more good people wasted in a country that can ill afford it.

Personal note: I find in very hard to write about the self induced disaster in Sri Lanka. The slow, painful, and seemingly inexorable slide from humanitarian situation to humanitarian catastrophe and my part in it eats at me. It’s not like the future wasn’t obvious even two or three years ago. Yet somehow, once again, we have failed to prevent a problem from becoming disaster. As a friend recently put it “i
t makes me feel dirty and ashamed to have been part of a process that was complicit in this f....g disgrace”.

Tsunami housing destroyed by government artillery fire, 27 July 2007.

Gunmen kill two more aid workers in Somalia

On 10 April, unidentified gunmen murdered two aid workers and their driver in a government controlled near Somalia’s Ethiopian border.

The gunmen killed the head of the Juba Community Care relief group, a colleague, and their driver as they were leaving town in their vehicle.

"Unidentified gunmen opened fire on their car as soon as they left for a trip to conduct surveys," Dahir Mohamed, one of their colleagues, said by phone from the region."We don't know who is behind the attack and the gunmen escaped after they killed the men," local elder Hasan Haji Idris said.

As with most attacks on aid workers in Somalia no group has claimed responsibility for the incident and the motive is unclear.

Source: Two Somali aid workers and their driver shot dead

Second ICRC staffer killed by shelling in Sri Lanka

On 8 April, Sinnathurai Kugathasan, a staff member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed by artillery fire in northern Sri Lanka, according to a statement from the committee.

Kugathasan, who had been working for ICRC since 2002 as a water technician, was hit by an artillery shell and killed instantly while fetching water for his family in Ampalavanpokanai, in territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He is survived by his wife and three children.

Kugathasan is the third humanitarian worker to be killed by artillery fire in Sri Lanka this year. On 17 March, R. Sabesan of CARE International died from shrapnel wounds. On 4 March ICRC staffer Vadivel Vijayakumar was also killed in an artillery attack in the same area.

Four aid workers killed in Pakistan

According to Pakistani television reports four aid workers with USAID funded Rise International were killed by gunmen in the Kund Bangla area of Shinkiary near Mansehra, Pakistan, on 6 April 2009. The gunmen fired upon the agency vehicle killing the three female staff. The body of their driver was found nearby.

The victims of the attack were identified as:

Sadaf Yar Muhammad - social mobiliser
Anjum Zeb - assistant education officer
Naeema Kausar - teacher
Saifullah - driver

According to a Rise International spokesman the four were returning to Mansehra from Kund Bangla when they were attacked. Their team had been in Kund Bangla to encourage local parents to send their children, especially girls, to school.

Although no culprits have been identified by police suspicion falls on Pakistani Taliban associated militants who object to education for girls. Conservative elements in the region object to the rapid pace of social change brought by NGOs and others since the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

Update: Local sources have indicated that Sadaf Yar Muhammad was the only victim working for Rise International. The other two women worked for the local education board. Local papers are now reporting that the incident may be the result of a domestic violence case.

FAR aid worker killed in Sudan

On 23 March, Adam Khatir, a Sudanese aid worker with Fellowship of African Relief, was shot dead by gunmen at his home in Kongo Haraza, Sudan. According to Mark Simmons, FAR’s country director, “He was ambushed on Saturday by men who wanted his Thuraya satellite telephone. They came to his home on Monday evening to take the phone, but it wasn't there. The armed men then opened fire on him."

On 21 February
two aid workers with Aide Médicale Internationale were killed when gunmen attacked a public bus near Nyala.

FAR Saddened by Death of Staff Member in Darfur
Sudanese aid worker shot dead in Darfur

Third WFP aid worker killed in Somalia

Update/Correction: Although Ahmed Hussein was previously a WFP contractor he was not working for WFP at the time of his death and had not done so for some time.

On 19 March, an aid worker with the UN's World Food Program (WFP) was killed in Mogadishu, Somalia according to a local radio station. Ahmed Hussein "Gesey" was shot in the head by unidentified gunmen while driving his vehicle in the Yaaqshiid district of Somalia’s capitol.

Ahmed Hussein is the third WFP staffer to be killed in Somalia this year. Ibrahim Hussein Duale was assassinated by gunmen near Garbahare on 6 January. On 8 January Mohamud Omar Moallim was shot by unidentified gunmen while distributing food to displaced people at Daynile, 6 miles north west of Mogadishu.

For other aid worker deaths this year see the Aid Worker Fatalities 2009 map.

Aid worker killed in Sri Lanka

On 17 March, R. Sabesan, a volunteer aid worker and former caretaker for CARE International, was killed by artillery fire in the ‘no-fire’ zone of northern Sri Lanka.

On Tuesday afternoon shrapnel from artillery fire inside the government agreed ‘no-fire’ zone severed one of Sabesan’s legs. He later died from his injuries. The lack of appropriate medical facilities and the lack of medical evacuation options contributed to Sabesan’s senseless death.

According to CARE, Mr. Sabesan, 24, had been working for CARE as a caretaker in the Mulliativu District office since March 2005.

Mr. Sabesan is the second aid worker to be killed by artillery fire in Sri Lanka this month.
Vadivel Vijayakumar, an ICRC staff member, was killed by artillery fire on the 4th.

American aid worker dead in Benin

On 12 March American Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey was found outside her home in Badjoude, Benin, where she worked as an English teacher. Although the Peace Corps has not yet commented on the cause of death there is some suspicion that she may have been murdered. The Peace Corps is waiting for local authorities to finish their investigations.

According to the Peace Corps, Ms. Puzey began her service in Benin on July 17, 2007. She was 24 years old and a native of Cumming, Georgia.

Three Red Cross staff killed by mobs in Mozambique

Angry mobs have killed at least three Red Cross volunteers and several police officers in Mozambique amidst fears that health staff were responsible for spreading Cholera. The attacks on Red Cross staff began when a rumour spread that the Red Cross and local authorities were infecting wells and fountains with cholera.

Red Cross staff were in fact treating wells with chlorine. Unfortunately local residents confused
cloro, the Portuguese word for chlorine, with Cholera and the rumour that health staff were deliberately infecting the wells quickly spread.

On 25 February 2009 two Mozambique Red Cross staff were killed by an angry mob in Quinga while they were on a safe drinking water public education campaign.


By 28 February the violence had spread to Angoche where a mob attacked a local health care center. The mob killed a police officer who had been sent along with four others to protect the centre’s aid workers.


On the same day, further down the coast in Moma district, another mob seized a local community leader and attacked police sent to rescue him.


More: Red Cross Volunteers Killed By Mob In Mozambique As Cholera Situation Deteriorates
Mozambique: Policeman Killed in Cholera Riot
Mozambique mobs kill three Red Cross workers in cholera mix-up

ICRC staffer killed in northern Sri Lanka

TamilNet is reporting the death of an ICRC staff member in northern Sri Lanka on 4 March 2009. According to the report Mr. K. Vijayarasa, was killed in an artillery attack as he was returning home from assisting with the evacuation seriously injured patients from a local hospital.

Update: ICRC has issued a news release. They identify the deceased staff member as Vadivel Vijayakumar and point out that Vijaykumar’s nine year old son was injured in the same incident.

Note: TamilNet is exactly an unbiased source but their bias is overt and they are often the first to report issues affecting Tamils in northern Sri Lanka.

Two aid workers killed in bus attack

On 21 February 2009, two Sudanese members of Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI) were killed by camel riding gunmen near Nyala, in Darfur, Sudan.

A dozen gunmen had forced a cargo truck and the passenger bus on which the AMI staff were riding to stop at the roadside in an apparent act of banditry. The gunmen then opened fire killing the two AMI staff members and wounding four other bus passengers. A third member of the AMI escaped unharmed.

The victims included a nurse practitioner and a health educator.

AMI has taken the decision to suspend programming the area to honour the memory of their slain colleagues.

NGO staff member killed in Kandahar

The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) is reporting that a national staff member of an INGO has been assassinated in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The staff member was apparently shot several times in the head. Night letters, anonymous fliers distributed at night, had recently been posted in the area threatening anyone working for foreign organizations.

Although ANSO indicates that details are sketchy and caution that details may change they quite rightly point out that NGO’s should take the information at face value until further information becomes available.

Two aid workers murdered in Sri Lanka.

According to the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) two members of its field staff were abducted on 2 February in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. The pair were on leave at the time. On 10 February their bodies were found near the government controlled town.

There is something about this incident that reeks of pathos. Murdered in a dirty little war... no press coverage... reduced to an anonymous three paragraph press statement.

If anyone knows their names please send them my way and I’ll record them here.

FSD press statement.

Aid workers die in freak ferry accident

Sri Lankan newspapers are reporting the death of two foreign aid workers after they accidently drove their vehicle off the end of the Muttur to Trincomalee ferry in eastern Sri Lanka.

Local police have stated that the pair started their vehicle to run the air conditioning without realizing that the vehicle had been left in gear. The bodies of the yet unnamed aid workers have been recovered and are in the Trincomalee hospital.

Two MSF staff killed in Pakistan


According to MSF two of their medical staff were killed during fighting in Swat district, Pakistan on Sunday 1 February 2009. The two staff were on their way to collect casualties of the heavy fighting when their clearly marked ambulances were fired upon in Charbagh.

Riaz Ahmad (24) and Nasar Ali (27) were killed in the attack. An MSF volunteer was also injured in the attack. The drivers of both ambulances escaped injury.

Attacks on independent medical staff strike me as extremely myopic. You might deprive your enemy of medical care but you also deprive yourself, your colleagues, and your community of the same care.

For more on attacks on aid workers in 2009 check out the aid worker fatalities map.

UNHCR officer kidnapped, driver killed in Quetta

On 2 February, unidentified gunmen kidnapped UNHCR sub-office Chief John Soloki from the Chaman Housing area in Quetta, Pakistan. The gunmen opened fire on his vehicle as he was leaving for work in the morning killing his driver.

Canadian humanitarian worker dies

The Canadian Aid Worker who was seriously beaten in Cambodia last week has died from his injuries. Jiri Zivny died at 5:15 p.m. local time on 15 January at Phnom Penh's Calmette hospital from injuries he sustained during a mugging.

As sad as this is it gets worse. According to CBC:

Zivny's medical insurance had expired before the attack. News of his death came as Picklyk and others were trying to raise funds to bring him back to Canada for treatment.

In other words Zivny did not have insurance to cover medical evacuation and neither did the organization he had paid 2700.00 CDN to volunteer for.

Potential aid workers take note - Ensure you have proper medical evacuation insurance before you go abroad. The organization you work for should be able to provide this for you. If not you will need to pay for your own... and you should probably consider choosing another organization.

More: B.C. aid worker dies in Cambodia

Gunmen kill second WFP aid worker in Somalia

On 8 January 2009 gunmen killed a UN World Food Programme (WFP) worker as his team distributed aid in Daynile 10 kms north of Mogadishu. The unidentified aid worker was the second WFP staff member murdered since the beginning of the new year. The gunmen also stole the victim’s vehicle after taking weapons from his bodyguards.

WFP food monitor Ibrahim Hussein Duale was shot dead on Tuesday by masked gunmen at a school near Garbahare.

Gunmen kill WFP aid worker in Somalia

Second (?) aid worker killed in Gaza

On 6 January, Mohammed Ibrahim Samouni, a Palestinian aid worker, was killed in an aerial bombing in Gaza. One of his six children was also critically injured in the incident.

Mr Samouni worked at a food packing station managed by CARE's General Union of Palestinian Peasants in support of CARE's Gaza Fresh Food Project.

More on Mr Samouni’s death: Worker for CARE's food distribution project killed in Gaza and Violence halts most of CARE's aid distribution in Gaza Strip

Mr Samouni may have the dubious distinction of being the second aid worker killed in the recent round of fighting in Gaza. Then again he might not.

The IFRC, is reporting that a Palestinian Red Crescent Society volunteer, Arafa Abdul Dayem, was killed while on duty, after an air strike hit the Al Salheen in Jabaliya. It sounds similar to the earlier incident reported by Oxfam. A different incident location, Beit Lahiya, was given but OpenStreetMap shows both locations in close proximity so I’m thinking its the same incident.

To make matters even more confused IPS quotes a spokesman for Gaza's Shifa Hospital as saying, “One Palestinian doctor and three medics have been killed during Israel's bombing campaign...”.

View Larger Map

On a related note Mikel Maron and volunteers are working on a Gaza OpenStreetMap update. If you know Gaza reasonably well but are fortunate enough to be in the relative safety of some place else you might want to give them your help. Good maps will help the relief effort and improve the safety and security of aid workers in Gaza.

Aid worker killed in Somalia

It’s only the sixth day of the new year and already we have this disturbing report of the death of an aid worker colleague in Somalia.

According to WFP:

Three masked gunmen shot and killed 44-year-old Somali national Ibrahim Hussein Duale, while he was monitoring school feeding in a WFP-supported school in Yubsan village six kilometres from the Gedo region capital of Garbahare. Witnesses say the gunmen approached him while he was seated, ordered him to stand up and then shot him.

WFP Statement
Aid worker killed in Somalia

Oxfam Funded Paramedic Killed in Gaza

According to an Oxfam statement a paramedic working for an Oxfam funded organization, Union of Health Work Committees, has been killed in the fighting in Gaza. The health care worker was killed when an errant shell hit his ambulance. Another paramedic and the ambulance driver were injured in the same incident.

The ambulance team was trying to evacuate an injured person in the Beit Lahiya area of Gaza.

Gunmen kill ICRC driver in Sri Lanka

On 23 December unidentified gunmen shot and killed a driver with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Mr. Sivasundaralingam Gangatharan (32) was killed near the ICRC office after stepping down from the bus he was taking to work. The father of two had been working for ICRC since 1999.

Sri Lanka: ICRC staff member killed in Jaffna
ICRC driver shot dead in Northern Sri Lanka

Gumen Kill Aid Worker in Eastern DRC

On 15 December gunmen shot and killed a Congolese aid worker from an Italian aid group in eastern Congo. Boduin Ntamenya was killed and his driver, Ciza Deo Gratias was seriously wounded when their vehicle was ambushed in the town of Burayi 5 km south of Rutshuru. Both men worked for the Voluntary Association for International Service (AVSI), an Italian non-governmental organisation operating in eastern Congo.

Although the incident took place in territory controlled by the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), CNDP officials blame the incident on the Rwandan Hutu rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The CNDP claim to have captured one of the aid worker’s killers.

This is the second fatal attack on humanitarian workers in DRC in less than a week. On 11 December a staff member from IRC was murdered in Bukavu.

Aid Worker Murdered in DRC

On 11 December, Seguin Tshisekedi was shot dead by unknown assailants a short distance from his home in the city center of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the IRC, Mr. Tshisekedi had worked for IRC as a data entry assistant since 2003.

The motives for the attack are unclear. Radio Okapi reports that Tshisekedi’s mobile phones are missing but that 425.00 USD and personal valuables were left behind.

Pasted Graphic

CCF Aid Worker Killed in Afghanistan

On 30 November Mohamad Shar (52) was killed when a suicide bomber attacked a passing vehicle. Shar had been working for Christian Children's Fund (CCF) for 18 months. He leaves behind a wife and six children.

Its difficult to understand the impact that Shar’s loss will have on his family. Shar wasn’t the target of the suicide attack but it is his family and the families of other victims who suffer the consequences.

Below is the story of Sami’s family. Sami was also killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on either 29 or 30 November. It may well have been the same attack killed Shar.

Mother (the first woman): My lovely son, oh my son my son.

Anchor: This is Sami’s family. Sami, who had worked for six years as a cleaner in Kabul city, was killed yesterday by suicide attack while he cleaned the street. Sami left five children behind. His oldest child is seven years. According to Sami’s wife he was the sole breadwinner of the family. After him there is no one to help this family.

Sami’s wife: My husband was a cleaner and he is dead now. He was supporting us and providing food. I am asking Karzai what should I do with my orphan children now and how should I feed them.

Anchor: These children are waiting for their father to come home. They do not understand that their father is never returning.

Eldest daughter: My uncle came and said Daddy had hurt his leg only then they brought his dead body.

Eldest son: He took his bicycle and his bag to bring food for us.

Anchor: Sami had two brothers and his brothers say they are not able to help the children. They are street cart porters and barely make a living (for their own families).

Eldest brother: I heard Sami was injured. When I arrived there I saw his body was torn into pieces.

Second brother: I went and saw his body was torn into pieces. The body was bleeding all the way to the cemetery. Why? We are all terrorized. Nothing left for us. Oh fear Allah; fear Quran! Why are they doing this to us?

Anchor: This is the second attack in this street. The first one killed five city cleaners and injured seven.

UN Contract Worker Killed in Afghanistan

On 26 November Belqis Mazloomyar, a UNHCR contract worker, women's rights activist, and community worker, was killed by unknown gunmen in Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. She was shot during a local shura meeting at Lower Sheikh Mesri, a temporary settlement for returnees. The identity of the perpetrators and their motives remain unclear.

More: Statement by Kai Eide, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan

Aid Worker Murdered in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

An aid worker with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) was killed by unidentified gunmen in Batticaloa last night. A. Vigneswaran was shot and killed after the gunmen forced him from his house according to local authorities. Vigneswaran had worked as a construction-supervisor with NRC for two years.

More: NGO officer shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka

Updated: Gunmen Kill American Aid Worker and Driver in Peshawar

Gunmen shot and killed an American aid worker and his driver in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday 12 November. The men were killed near their office in the University Town area. The names of the victims have not been officially released pending notification of next of kin but local television channels are reporting the victim as Stephen Devency.

The American reportedly worked for the FATA Development Program, a USAID funded coalition of humanitarian organizations.

Update: The NYT has identified the murdered American as Steve Vance of the Co-operative Housing Foundation (CHF). The Tehrik-i-Taliban, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the murders.


American Aid Worker Shot Dead
US aid worker killed in Pakistan

Gunmen Kill Mercy Corps Staffer in Somalia

On 8 November gunmen shot dead a Somali aid worker in southern Somalia. Mohamud Mohamed Osman “Sakow” of Mercy Corps was assassinated while walking to his house in Jamame, north of Kismayu.

Read more:
Somalia: Aid worker killed in Somalia
Hawiye jehadist al shabaab killed today Aid worker in shabelle region Somalia
Gunmen kill another aid worker in south Somalia

Updated: Suicide Attacks on UNDP and Horn Relief in Somalia

Update: New information suggests three killed and eight injured at UNDP compound.

A UNDP compound has been struck by a suicide bomb attack in what seems to be a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks across northern Somalia. Initial reports suggest that at least one UN staff member and a security guard were killed.

It appears that Horn Relief, an NGO working in the horn of Africa may also have been hit in the attacks.

Suicide bombers in Somalia strike UN compound

Kabul Funeral for Gayle Williams

Somali Aid Worker Murdered

A female aid worker was gunned down by unknown assailants on 25 October near the Somali town of Gurilel. Duniya Sheik Daud worked for Iida, a group that campaigns for women's rights and against female genital mutilation.

more: Another aid worker killed in Somalia

Taliban Kill British woman aid worker in Kabul

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the murder of a female aid worker early on 20 October. Gayle Williams was targeted by two motorcycle riding gunmen while she walked along a Kabul street.

According to a Taliban spokesman, “We killed her for spreading Christian propaganda.”

Read more:
British woman aid worker killed in Afghan capital

WFP Staffer Murdered in Somalia

Gunmen killed a WFP staffer on Friday. Abdinasir Adan Muse was murdered as he left a local mosque after evening prayers. The incident occurred in Merka, about 80 kilometres south-west of Mogadishu.

Read more:
Official says gunmen kill a Somali UN aid worker
UN aid worker gunned down in Somalia - AFP

Aid Worker Deaths Due to Violence

Aid Worker Deaths or Injuries Due to Violence

Gunmen Kill Aid Workers in Somalia

On 11 July gunmen shot and killed Mohamed Muhamoud Keyre, the deputy head of Mogadishu-based, German-funded Daryeel Bulsho Guud (DBG). DBG reported that he had been gunned down as he was performing ablutions at a Mosque at Elasha Biyaha, Mogadishu.

In a separate incident gunmen seriously wounded Ali Bashi, who heads Mogadishu-based charity group, SORDA. Ali Bashi was attacked while distributing food to internally displaced people in Taredishe camp 13 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, in southern Somalia, gunmen shot and killed a WFP-contracted driver. Ahmed Saali was killed in fighting between convoy escorts and militiamen at a checkpoint in Lower Shabelle region on Monday.

Somali aid worker killed near Mogadishu, another wounded
Somali aid worker killed by gunmen

Three Afghan NGO staff killed in Air Strike

On 3 July, three Afghan aid workers employed by an International NGO were reportedly killed in a Coalition Force (CF) air strike in Nuristan. Another staff member was wounded in the incident.

According to reports the aid workers were evacuating the area after receiving warnings of impending CF operations when their vehicle was caught in the air strike.

UNDP Head Assassinated in Mogadishu, Somalia

Osman Ali Ahmed, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Mogadishu, was assassinated by gunmen as he returned home from evening prayers. The gunmen shot him six times at close range. His younger brother was also fatally wounded in the incident.

Gunmen kill senior U.N.official in Mogadishu

Australian Aid Worker Shot and Killed in Tanzania

Darren Stratti, an Australian aid worker helping build a village for orphans in northern Tanzania, was shot by burglars in a robbery attempt. He later succumbed to his wounds.

Mr Stratti worked for foodwatershelter, a small NGO set up to work in developing countries, building the villages which provide education, health and social facilities for women, children and orphans.

Shot kills the dream of aid worker Darren Stratti
Australian aid worker killed in Africa

Aid Worker Killed in Somalia

On 30 June, unidentified gunmen kidnapped and later killed Siyad Orow, a Somali aid worker in Mogadishu. Siyad Orow was the head of ASAL, a local implementing partner for WFP.

Gunmen kill aid worker in Mogadishu: officials

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.

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.

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.


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

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.

Gunmen Kill Aid Worker in Southern Somalia

The director of the Somali aid organization Horn Relief was killed by masked gunmen as he arrived at his house in Kismayo, Somalia late Saturday. According to village elders the reason for the killing of Ahmed Bariyow was not readily apparent.

The killing comes as central Somalia enters a humanitarian emergency amid fears of a full blown famine.

Press TV: Somali aid organizer shot dead.

WFP Head of Sub-office Killed by Gunmen in Northwestern Kenya

On Wednesday, 7 May 2008, gunmen shot dead 37-year-old Zimbabwean Silence Chirara outside a UN compound in Lokichoggio, north of Nairobi, near the border with southern Sudan. He was ambushed while driving a clearly marked UN vehicle.

See also:
UN food agency shocked by killing of staffer in Kenya
Zimbabwean Aid worker killed in Kenya

Save the Children Aid Worker Killed in Chad

Save the Children aid worker, Pascal Marlinge, was shot and killed by armed men in Chad on 1 May 2008. The link below has more detail from Save the Children.

Action Against Hunger Leaves Sri Lanka in Protest

ACF has made the difficult decision to withdraw from Sri Lanka due to lack of confidence in the government's investigation into the massacre of 17 ACF staff two years ago. This couldn't have been an easy decision for ACF. Concerns over the impact of their withdrawal on beneficiaries must weigh heavily. However, ACF's action may well help raise the profile of attacks on NGOs in Sri Lanka and help end the culture of impunity that grips the island.

I applaud ACF for making morally courageous choices under difficult circumstances.

Pakistan: Shifting Targets?

Kidnapped Aid Workers Reportedly Killed in Afghanistan

Aid workers Cyd Mizell and Muhammad Hadi have apparently been killed in Afghanistan according to this statement by Asian Rural Life Development Foundation. The pair had been kidnapped by armed men in Kandahar while they travelled to work in the morning.

Our prayers are with the families and friends of Hadi and Cyd.

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