Seminar Alert: Issues on Operational Security for the Humanitarian Aid Worker

Seminar Alert: Issues on Operational Security for the Humanitarian Aid Worker, organized by Islamic Outreach ABIM & the International Committee of the Red Cross, 18 April 2011, Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Background and Rationale

There has been growing interest among the local NGO community in Malaysia on the operational aspects of humanitarian aid. An increasing number of organizations and individuals are seeking for ways in which to contribute in a more tangible manner towards providing assistance for vulnerable populations around the world. It is arguable that the desire for a more direct and tangible participation in relief operations to better the lot of vulnerable populations is common among those already involved in humanitarian efforts. Unfortunately, an increase in the level of involvement in operational activities always comes with a corresponding increase in risk affecting the humanitarian aid worker.

The risk for the humanitarian aid environment itself has been increasing at an alarming rate as of late. Violence directed against aid workers seem to be on the rise and there seems to be no foreseeable change of the trend in the near future. Most worryingly, there are indications that the recent targeting of aid workers has more to do with political motivations rather than economic gain, as in the case of banditry. When there is little respect for the basic protections safeguarding the wellbeing of humanitarian aid workers, the occupational hazard of operational activities increases exponentially.

What are the measures that organizations can take to mitigate the risks involved in operational activities? What are the things that organizations should know, or at least be able to find out, in order to ensure optimal chances for survival of their relief workers? What are the things they should consider while planning for their operations and what should the people on the ground do to increase their chances of coming home safe? The answers to these questions are not cut and dried, for there are many variables that factor into the security of the humanitarian aid worker, not least of which are the highly specific features of each environment where operational activities take place.

Through the exchange of ideas and experiences, this seminar aims to stimulate discussion on issues concerning the security of humanitarian aid workers involved in operational activities. Aimed at senior level members of humanitarian organizations whose decisions have an impact on the security of their colleagues in the field, it is hoped that the discussions would develop informed approaches towards devising operational security policies that works towards safeguarding the wellbeing and reducing the risks for the humanitarian aid worker.

The objectives of the seminar include sharing and exchanging experiences of working in the field between humanitarian organizations and institutions and identify the most pressing issues relating to safety and security of humanitarian aid workers as well as comparing common observations and practices in high risk situations. The seminar also aims to explore the possible precautionary security measures that can be undertake for operational activities to significantly reduce the risk towards humanitarian aid workers in the field; and finally to spark the impetus for the development and adoption of helpful policies, informed measures and best practices by organizations that works toward reducing the risks faced by humanitarian aid workers in their operational activities.


The one-day event would begin with addresses by the Chairman of Islamic Outreach ABIM as well as a representative from the ICRC. The event itself would consist of two sessions – the seminar in the morning, and the workshop in the afternoon; the seminar would consist of panelist speakers discussing a topic of a pre-determined theme, and the workshop would be conducted by an ICRC delegate. Please contact us at 0342569822 (Sis. Aishah) for registration. Participation is free of charge.

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