Protecting humanitarian victims of violence

Those on the frontline of healthcare and humanitarian aid in some of the world’s most troubled regions are facing increasing levels of violence amid continued global unrest.

Aid workers and health professionals are finding themselves direct targets for attacks – many of them deadly – carried out by state or insurgent forces, criminal gangs or even the local communities they are tasked with serving.

The rise in attacks over the past five years – with 2018 the second worst year on record – raises questions about how best to protect those who have committed themselves to helping others.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), recent efforts to quell the growing ebola outbreak have been hindered by violence against response teams – causing a spike in new infections and increasing the risk that the disease may spread to neighbouring countries.

The violence in DRC – including attacks on clinics which have claimed lives – has been triggered by distrust towards disease prevention measures implemented by local and international health workers.

In Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, meanwhile, a military crackdown on anti-government protests earlier this month saw healthcare workers attacked and killed, medical equipment looted and mobile tent clinics set alight.

Elsewhere, ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Afghanistan have seen a steady drip of attacks against humanitarians and healthcare workers – many of them resulting in loss of life.

And the global trend of violence is one which seems to be getting worse.

The Aid Worker Security Database, a project of Humanitarian Outcomes, recorded 633 deaths of NGO workers between 2013 and 2018, compared to 464 deaths in the preceding five years.

The numbers of injuries sustained or incidences of kidnapping experienced by aid or healthcare professionals also increased over the same period – with the majority befalling local national employees.

The stark figures serve as a reminder that for those on the frontline of humanitarian care or healthcare provision, safety protocols and medical support must be a number one priority.

Tangiers International operates in many of the world’s most high-risk locations, providing medical case management, evacuation services, assistance setting up remote clinics and a range of other services aimed at ensuring national and international staff have medical and logistical support.

The company relies on a global network of more than 100 on-the-ground personnel situated in many of the world’s most volatile regions to ensure that travel and medical solutions can be accessed quickly and efficiently when needed.

By utilising local nationals’ expertise in the field, Tangiers is able to navigate bureaucratic hurdles and language barriers while being aware of cultural sensitivities which can easily delay or derail case management.

The company’s medical advisory panel – consisting of healthcare professionals well-versed in remote medicine and the challenges faced in the developing world – ensures that decisions about a patient’s welfare are backed up by hard-won experience.

That means that for those who have dedicated their lives to helping others, help is there when they need it.