World

"No Relief": Surveying the effects of gun violence on humanitarian and development personnel

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What is the impact of weapons availability and misuse on the work of relief and development agencies? Are attacks on workers on the rise, as is commonly assumed? Where do the gravest dangers lie - from political or criminal violence? Are these agencies adequately preparing their international and national staff to meet the security threats arising?
No Relief aims to answer these and many other related questions, drawing on the results of the largest victimisation survey ever undertaken of development and humanitarian personnel, based on over 2,000 questionnaires, involving staff from 17 UN and NGO agencies in 90 countries.

Its key findings include that one in five workers face serious security incidents; that workers are cut off from assisting large numbers of people in need because of armed threats and the misuse of guns, that agencies are increasingly turning to private security to protect staff and supplies, and that the biggest threat appears to be criminal violence, from civilians armed with handguns.

No Relief makes a number of recommendations that deserve close attention. They are targeted at agencies and governments, for steps that can be taken to address gun violence and to better regulate the arms trade. This is particularly crucial in the lead up to the 2006 UN Review Conference to evaluate progress made on the UN Programme of Action on small arms, and next steps for global action.