Search This Blog

Friday, August 22, 2014

Volunteering Abroad - Dangers Faced by International Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Workers

After a natural disaster, the risk of injury is high. During a war, the possibility of facing physical harm escalates. Relief workers head out to give assistance, knowing that they have to be on the alert, 100% of the time.

Relief workers are also known as humanitarian workers, or aid workers. They enter countries in need of aid, hoping to save lives and alleviate the suffering, of other human beings. However relief work is not for the faint of heart.

Once someone leaves their country, to go overseas, to help others who are fleeing a war torn country, they become at risk themselves. In 2008, 122 relief workers were killed and 260 were assaulted. This attack on people who work in this area is partly due to the fact that relief workers are increasingly being seen as political players.

In November, 2008, three gunmen attempted to kidnap two aid workers, while they were on their way to work in Kabul. An Afghan man who tried to assist the two aid workers was killed. One of the aid workers was also killed while the other managed to escape.

Humanitarian aid workers are also in danger from the elements. Several people were caught in the aftershock of the last major earthquake in Haiti. In China, in May, 2008, over 200 aid workers repairing damaged roads after an earthquake, were buried in the mudslides that followed.

Added to this, is the fact that the supply of clean water is usually limited in the days immediately following a serious earthquake, hurricane or other natural disaster. This increases the possibility, of acquiring diarrheal illnesses such as E. coli, entamoeba and Giardia.

Humanitarian workers may even face harm due to cultural differences. In Sudan, aid workers were attacked by police in January, while they were celebrating a day off, with dining, drinking and dancing. Sudanese officials say that aid workers and members of the U.N. staff, will be held accountable, for breaking Sudanese law.

Relief workers often return home, having endured the same mental trauma as a veteran of war. This happens because of the frequency with which they undertake difficult, dangerous tasks and neglect food, sleep and personal care, in the race to decrease fatalities. To cut down on the effects of what they see and experience relief workers try to keep in touch with family and friends, try to keep their perspective and form good bonds with fellow humanitarian workers.

Source:, "Aid Worker Kidnappings Rise",

No comments:

Post a Comment