Afghanistan: Most Dangerous Place in the World for Independent Humanitarian Aid Groups

Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Afghan medical staff carry body of female foreign aid worker (photo: Aref Karimi, AFP/Getty Images)

Providing humanitarian assistance can be very dangerous in war-torn countries, and nowhere is that more true than in Afghanistan.


In spite of a drop in the number of deaths and injuries from 2013, this year Afghanistan is again leading the world in humanitarian aid worker casualties. Ninety-five of them have been wounded and 36 have been killed in the country to date in 2014, out of 229 killed or injured worldwide, The New York Times has reported.


In recent weeks, the Taliban has stepped up attacks in Kabul, putting aid agencies on high security alert and forcing them to evacuate some of their foreign workers from the country.


There are 2,300 aid groups in Kabul and thousands of foreign aid workers in the country, including 3,000 who are registered with the Afghan government.


For most of the war, aid groups weren’t targeted by insurgents. But that’s been changing, in part because of “the increased use by the American government and other foreign donors of private aid contractors in recent years, which blurred the lines between independent humanitarian groups and military or government-affiliated ones,” according to the Times’ Rod Nordland.


Norland also reported last year that life for independent aid workers in Afghanistan started getting worse after the Afghan military and U.S. Special Forces began showing up at their health clinics. The appearance of the soldiers had the effect of raising suspicions among local residents over the aid workers’ impartiality.


“If you end up having armed troops patrolling in and around these places, you disrupt the trust you have,” Andreas Stefansson, country director for the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, told the newspaper.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

International Aid Agencies Call for Temporary Exit from Afghanistan (by Rod Nordland, New York Times)

Funding for NGOs (Global Policy Reform)

Aid Worker Security Database (Humanitarian Outcomes)

Attacks on Aid Workers Rise in Afghanistan, U.N. Says (by Rod Norland, New York Times)

Dramatic Rise in Attacks on Aid Workers (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

198 U.S. Aid Groups Criticize CIA for Using Fake Polio Vaccination Drive to Kill Bin Laden (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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