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NGO Advisory Board Washington DC: discussing humanitarian issues

Raptim Humanitarian Travel, with the support from our partners, Emirates, Clements Worldwide and the Western Union, organized an NGO Advisory Board in Washington DC to discuss a range of relevant subjects in the humanitarian world.

NGO’s on the forefront

Non-governmental organization (NGO’s) named five major risk concerns in the world today. Cyber liability is most pressing, according to the latest annual Risk Index. Second on the list is terrorism, followed by business interruption. Finally, NGO’s see personnel medical needs and property damage as other worrying concerns.

There is plenty of political unrest in the world and it is affecting humanitarian aid workers. A survey showed that 22 percent of humanitarians have faced political violence. Most of the violence occurs in Africa and Europe. The nature of this conflict being very unpredictable possesses even a greater risk. This can be attributed to risk reports not being delivered in real time to relevant parties. In the interest of getting a better picture of the risk areas, monitoring of the social media is duly encouraged. This is because, in today’s world, it has proven to be a great tool for gathering information in real time. Additionally, aid workers are encouraged to build relationships with embassies in countries they’re working in.

NGO communities get hit more than any government agency in conflict areas. Officials from national governments or members of the United Nations have conversations, but they are not the ones out on the field. Officials count on NGO’s to go out and provide information. That is why it is crucial for people who take the greatest risks, to be the most protected in these volatile areas for example by having dedicated security personnel on the ground with them at all times.

It was pointed out that setting a standard for safety and security it should be a priority at this point. On a global and national level, aid workers need to be educated, trained and certified on safety and risks. Organizations should hire specialists to train people to understand the liabilities in the precious work that they do. During stressful times in vulnerable areas, humanitarians have to be in a good physical and psychological state. A proactive approach from NGO's is needed to guarantee this, by budgeting it into plans. As of now, only five to ten percent of budgets is left for administrative issues. There is barely funding for physical insurance, not to mention mental health.

But humanitarian aid workers also have the responsibility to educate themselves. Many don’t take time to understand local systems and the cultural aspects. Duty of care is not taken as an obligation. For example, after a humanitarian project is finished, it is possible to extend a trip to see the country. However, some people do not inform the NGO that they are going to extend, which means they are not covered, in case anything goes wrong.

Members of the meeting were surprised by how many NGO’s lack mapping tools for tracking their employees. Employers need to take care of their travelers and travelers need to keep their employers aware of their plans. Travelers also need to understand why NGO's desire to track them. But young aid workers often refuse to be tracked, which results in numerous exposed risks.  Tracking should be mandatory, and people need to be responsible to get coverage. Only when clear security protocols are set and followed, we can work safely towards a better world.

We’re a full-service humanitarian travel management company, and we like to keep you informed on our discussions, every small step of the way. Want to know more? Please contact your nearest Raptim office.