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Security Unit Annual Report 2013 (MAA00026)

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Period covered: January to December 2013


Every year on average, over 20 Red Cross Red Crescent staff die in the line of duty while providing live saving assistance and sadly 2013 was no exception. According to IFRC statistics, kidnapping or other serious attacks against Red Cross Red Crescent staff resulting in death or serious injuries occurred in a number of countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Syria and Philippines. By far, the most dangerous operational context at the moment is Syria and in 2013 at least 15 Syria Arab Red Crescent Society staff or volunteers were killed while a number of others were seriously injured. Violence in Afghanistan against humanitarian aid workers and Red Cross Red Crescent staff, has also increased steadily. A number of other Red Cross Red Crescent staff or volunteers also died during the year while providing emergency response to those in need in addition to those being victims of crime. In total, 26 Red Cross Red Crescent staff were confirmed as having died in in the line of duty during 2013.

We continue to witness changes in the global security environment resulting in a general deterioration, and IFRC personnel and humanitarian aid workers having to operate increasingly in insecure or potentially dangerous environments. In 2013 we continued to see increased insecurity in the traditional high risk areas such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Syria, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of Congo; in addition recent popular reactions to rising commodity prices, unemployment and the perceived authoritarianism of governments, elections and political turmoil have also created high levels of insecurity in new areas. The “Arab spring”, the war in Syria and the instability in CAR and Mali are some examples. This insecurity has resulted in an increasing level of attacks on aid workers and increased insecurity for Red Cross Red Crescent personnel. As a result of the global economic crisis we are also witnessing an increasing number of incidents related to general crime – theft, burglary etc.

In recognition of these trends the security programme continues to focus on developing a culture of security both within the IFRC Secretariat and amongst member National Societies. The programme provided security training and education, promotion of best practices, security assessments as well as ensuring 24/7 security support to the secretariat and National Society staff seeking advice and guidance. The programme also focused on providing guidance to field managers on actions required to comply with the IFRC’s minimum security requirements (MSR) as well as establishing a sound security management process.

Key Accomplishments in 2013

  • Volunteer ‘Stay Safe’ E-learning curse in English completed and available on the learning platform
  • Over 30,000 RC/RC Personnel and Aid workers have registered for our two security e-learning and as of December 31, 2013 close to 15,000 have completed the trainings
  • 20 security courses/ workshops conducted for 530 RC/RC personnel
  • Second review of Annual Minimum Security Requirements (MSR) across IFRC operations conducted with 95% compliance
  • The volunteer department and the security unit has also published “Stay safe – volunteer security” book of which 7,500 have distributed in seven language versions
  • Security Assessments conducted in Syria, Jordan, Nepal, Philippines, Georgia, Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan as well as to Niger and CAR for the Global Found initiative. Reports and recommendations and action points provided to country and zone managers.

In 2013 we adopted a focus on enhancing the support provided to National Society volunteers from the number volunteers who are being injured and killed it is clear that RC/RC volunteers are often the ones placed at greatest risk. The development of the Volunteers Stay safe book, produced in conjunction with the Volunteering Department, which is now available in seven languages, and in September the launch of the Volunteer Stay safe E-learning course on the Learning Platform are our latest initiatives in this area. At the General Assembly in Sydney in November we also distributed 500 memory sticks containing all the Stay safe manuals and E-learning courses.

The current environment with an increasing number of emergencies and a deteriorating global security environment increases the risk for RC/RC personnel. We can never negate but can only take steps to mitigate identified risks in the current environment. However, both the IFRC and our member National Societies must recognize that we are deploying personnel into increasingly higher- risk situations. Failing to identify this and respond accordingly creates a risk for the IFRC and/or National Societies that we will be unable to fulfil our humanitarian mandate and our obligations to provide as safe a working environment as possible for our personnel.

Working in partnership

The Security Unit provided advice on establishing effective operational security frameworks to enable the implementation of Global Fund Health (anti malaria, HIV, TB) programmes commencing in CAR and Niger.

Advice was provided to a number of Departments who are establishing operational partnerships with other organisations aimed at enhancing the reach of the organisation and support affected populations. The Security Unit advised on ensuring effective security frameworks were established in order to ensure that operations are conducted in as secure a manner as possible while also mitigating potential liability issues for the IFRC. Specifically:

  • The Shelter Department in establishing operational partnerships with other agencies linked to the IFRC Global Shelter Cluster lead role. -The WatSan Unit, in relation to partnerships being developed with Oxfam and CARE linked to the Rapid Assessment Team concept.
  • The partnership established between IFRC and WFP and FAO involving the secondment of a Senior Officer – Food Security to WFP.

The Unit continues to work with the Manager of Supplementary Services on the establishment of Integration and Service Agreements aimed at enhancing in security support to PNS operations. The Security Unit was a member of a task force charged with developing the IFRC Information Security Framework (ISF). It provided technical input over a period of 3 months in terms of workshops, meetings and critical review of related draft documents. The ISF was approved by the Secretary General in 2014.