“Humanitarians need to be even better at reaching communities caught up in conflict. This new course paves the way to equip aid workers with the basic tools to better understand how to access people in crisis,” said Jamie Munn, Director of NRC in Geneva.
As attacks against civilians grow and parties to conflict actively deny them access to aid in crises, humanitarians have been struggling to assist and protect the people in need. Aid workers are often faced with difficult trade-offs challenging the foundations of humanitarian work. For example, sometimes they have to balance between the needs of people they serve and mitigating potential harm to their staff. Last year saw 139 aid workers killed in the line of duty, the second highest recorded death toll, outranked only by 2013 which saw 154 deaths.
As a consequence, aid agencies are often confined to capitals and easier-to-reach areas. But at a time of growing humanitarian needs, it is essential that humanitarians work as closely as possible to people in need. In hard-to-reach areas of South Sudan, food distribution by relief organisations is a lifeline for tens of thousands of people displaced. If access to communities is restricted, people could potentially starve to death.
“This is a step in strengthening the aid industry ambitions to be in the hard to reach places, where needs are often the greatest,” said Munn.
The new course will equip humanitarians with concepts and tools to better understand the context in which they operate, and identify the access challenges they might encounter.
The initiative is part of NRC’s wider efforts to improve aid delivery and better protect communities in hard-to-reach contexts. Other projects include training aid workers in designing, planning, and implementing humanitarian negotiations for access and protection of people in need.