Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Incident: Expulsion, Chechnya

In reaction to the continued furor over Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, the Chechnyan government announced it would be expelling Danish aid workers and ceasing in-country operations of the Danish Refugee Council. Despite efforts to distance itself from the controversy, the organization has experienced various forms of hostility throughout the world.

The Chechyna situation is politically complicated and may simply be an opportunity for the government to exert more control over NGOs, following the lead of Russia.

However, the volatility associated with the cartoons raises a very important point. Actions by a government or an individual, corporation or organization that is viewed to be affiliated with a government (whether it is or not), may have a significant, rapid and unforeseen impact on an NGO's operations. It's unlikely the Danish Refugee Council or individual Danish aid workers ever dreamed they'd be put at risk from a series of political cartoons published thousands of miles from where they were working almost six months prior. This situation should emphasize why having good contingency and evacuation plans in place is so very important for any NGO field office.


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