Humanitarian and Non Governmental Organization Safety & Security - Do no harm, do know harm - Since 2005 -
Sunday, March 23, 2008
NGO Security Scenario #24 - Media Fallout
Following the abduction of a group of South Korean aid workers in Afghanistan, you are quickly brought in as a consultant to advise the organization they were volunteering for. The Taliban kidnappers have threatened to kill one of the aid workers unless their demands are met. The incident is dynamic and the South Korean and Afghan governments have yet to become largely involved. You believe the situation can be resolved and that negotiations as proceeding in good faith. As you sip your morning tea, a news report with the following video appears on the hotel room television (click the play button).
An official is quoted that the military has just recovered the body of one of the Korean aid workers. This is the first you've heard of this report. Your mobile and satellite phones both start ringing at the same time. There's loud knocking at your door. What do you do? What are your priorities? What actions will you advise the organization to take next? Share your thoughts in the COMMENTS below.
So let's say you work for an NGO that's managed to irritate a government. And I don't mean cause minor irritation, as most organizations do or have done, but serious irritation, where a government (or proxy) decides to use its resources to mess you up. Not the typical expulsions, detainments or arrests, but really sneaky stuff.
Read this article about what's happening with Tibetan NGOs. It's been my experience that most NGOs are woefully unprepared to deal with such a threat. While I've encountered a few IT staff members who are security savvy (and a smaller number of security practitioners who are IT proficient), this tends to be the exception within the humanitarian community.
IT and security folks rarely talk. As you both have the interests of your organization in common, jointly discussing this article might be a good way to begin a dialog.
Inside the Twisted Mind of a Security Professional
Read the article and what do you think? Are we hardwired differently than most of the people we work with and for? Can you teach security mindset? And just how twisted is your mind? (I certainly seem to fit the profile.)
You're working on a security assessment report at your organization's country office in Egypt. You hear car horns honking outside and look out the window. A broken down piece of road construction equipment is being moved off the street. Click the play button to see what happens next.
The dark colored car belongs to the Country Director who is in a meeting with her staff. What would you do next? Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.
You are returning to your organization's country office in Sudan. You are on foot and the office is about a half kilometer away. You hear a commotion behind you and turn around. Click the play button to see what happens next.
What would you do next? Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.
You are a program manager for a forestry project in South America, spending a few weeks in the Western United States observing wildland firefighting operations. You are at a large fire camp. Drought conditions and high winds have caused several fires to increase in size and become unpredictable. Click the play button to see what happens next.
What are the primary threats? How much risk is there? What actions would you take? As the smoke gets thicker, it becomes difficult to breath. Would placing a wet bandanna over your face help? Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.
Note: A PowerPoint presentation (in PDF format) by the Incident Commander discussing the event, with lots of photos, is here. Contrast what you see in the video with the description of the actual incident. The U.S. Forest Service, and the wildland fire community in general, do an excellent job of post-incident analysis and making lessons learned widely known. The humanitarian community could learn a lot in developing similar practices for safety and security incidents.