The Brussels Series is a series of op-ed, articles and briefing papers of NGOs in preparation for the Brussels Conference.
ACBAR publishes today a special briefing paper to the government of Afghanistan for the protection of aid workers. This paper is part of a broader advocacy effort to safeguard humanitarian space and promote NGO principles.
Afghanistan has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for an aid worker. Protracted internal armed conflict, insurgency, political instability, criminality and disrespect for the rule of law threaten the safety and the lives of field personnel and the communities they work with. One aid worker killed in their line of duty is one too many. Since January last year in Afghanistan, 49 aid workers were killed, 38 wounded and 30 kidnapped.
As 2016 further descends into violence, the outlook is worrying. However, violence is not the only cause: misunderstanding of NGO’s agenda and principles, mistrust at local level by both the State and non-state groups also hampers the security and work of NGOs on the ground with NGO and humanitarian aid workers often the deliberate targets of intimidation and direct attacks.
Safeguarding the operating space of NGOs not only means protecting aid workers, it ensures the population receives the assistance they are entitled to. As the Government of Afghanistan and international community gather in Brussels to reaffirm financial commitment to Afghanistan’s future, safeguarding aid workers should be recognized as a key condition to development.
At Brussels we expect concrete steps to be outlined to ensure that these words are put into action: this paper, directed to the government of Afghanistan details a set of recommendations to move forward.