Understanding Violent Attacks Against Humanitarian Aid Workers
33 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2015
Date Written: November 16, 2015
What factors explain attacks on humanitarian aid workers? Most research has either tended to describe trends rather than analyse the reasons underlying attacks, or lacks the empirical evidence to support causal assertions. In moving this agenda forward, we present to our knowledge the first cross-national time-series study that identifies factors related to violent attacks on humanitarian aid workers. Drawing on security, civil conflict, and criminal violence literatures, our theoretical framework explores three groups of potential explanatory factors: dynamics of conflict; the political economic context; and aspects of humanitarian sector operations. Using a global sample at the country-level from 1997-2014, we identify factors related to lethal and non-lethal attacks on humanitarian workers. Our results indicate that the presence and severity of armed conflicts are related to increased attacks on aid workers, but neither conflicts that actively target civilians nor levels of criminal violence increase risks to humanitarian workers. We also find more economically developed and politically stable countries are safer for aid workers, and that the presence of an international military force does not add to aid worker risk.
Keywords: Humanitarianism; Humanitarian Security; Civil Conflict; Humanitarian Aid; United Nations; Civilian Violence; Development Aid; International Non-Governmental Organizations; Risk and insecurity; Aid Worker Attacks
JEL Classification: F35, O19
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