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Duty of Care: Protection of Humanitarian Aid Workers

Humanitarian aid workers and volunteers do amazing work around the world. They help others where people need it the most. When disaster strikes, humanitarians are the first to on the ground and provide emergency response. Similarly, they risk their lives in conflict areas to protect and help victims of war. That is why we want to talk to you about the Duty of Care: Protection of Humanitarian Aid Workers.

But, humanitarian travel poses a number of risks. That’s because staff and volunteers deploy to conflict-and disaster-affected areas. The most obvious risk is safety and security. However, there are also risks associated with physical and mental health.

All of these factors must be part of a good Duty of Care solution for every humanitarian organization. Duty of Care ensures the protection of humanitarian aid workers while they are in the field and upon their return.

What is Duty of Care?

In simple terms, Duty of Care is the responsibility to care for others. When applied to humanitarian travel, it means protecting aid workers when in the field. While it sounds pretty straightforward, it actually has many facets.

For example, the organization that deploys has a clear, top-tier level of Duty of Care for their staff and volunteers. Yet, each individual who deploys in the field also bears some Duty of Care for themselves and others. This means that it is each person’s responsibility to read safety and security manuals and follow their instructions. They must also stay informed of the current situation and take personal safety precautions.

Other actors have Duty of Care responsibilities as well. As an example, the travel agency you work with must provide safety and security support during travel. Logistics companies need to ensure that materials and goods arrive on time to prevent strikes or deficiencies in the field. Donors should include clauses for care and prevention in their funding instructions, and so on…

Duty of Care

Difference Between Moral and Legal Duty of Care

There are two types of Duty of Care—moral and legal. Moral Duty of Care falls to the responsibility of all parties involved. It’s the natural disposition to protect those under our care or in our team. In fact, it’s present in all fields to a certain extent. You cannot fail the protection of humanitarian aid workers.

However, the humanitarian field is more complex, and humanitarians are exposed to more risks. That’s why legal Duty of Care goes beyond the moral aspect. It is the legal obligation of every organization that deploys humanitarian aid workers. They must conduct the needed risk assessments and mitigate risks accordingly. While this sounds logical, Duty of Care has only recently become a legal factor in humanitarian deployment. It rests on the case of Dennis v. NRC.

Mr. Dennis was kidnapped during an NRC mission in Kenya. He then sued the NRC for gross negligence in failing to provide safety and security during the mission despite clear indication that issues could arise. The case serves as a legal precedent for Duty of Care in the humanitarian sector. To learn more about the case, click here.

Travel where you are needed most

Raptim Duty of Care

As a humanitarian travel agency we take Duty of Care very seriously. It is one of the cornerstones of our services. We ensure that we follow through with each of our travelers every step of the way. This includes pre-departure, deployment, in-field, and upon their return.

One of our main emphases is on communication. We send travelers pre-departure reports. This helps them stay informed and assess potential risks. During the mission, we provide push notifications. Even if you are not in a well-connected area, you can receive news and alerts. Additionally, we make sure that communication is available between you and your organization.

At the same time, we believe in risk mitigation. Organizations can instantly geo-locate each staff member and volunteer through our Duty of Care services. This means that they are able to inform and withdraw people as needed. Plus, you can easily manage simple reporting tasks. This ensures efficiency, but also provides data for future analysis during risk assessments.

We Help You to Travel Where it is Needed Most

We believe our world is a better place when compassion can travel where it is needed most. As a global humanitarian travel organization, we devote ourselves to serving those who serve the world. We understand the need for protection of humanitarian aid workers. Our experienced staff can be reached at any given time. Please use our quick address locator to contact your nearest Raptim office should you have any questions. You can also follow our blog for more stories and travel information

Duty of Care Brochure CTA