Aid workers killed in Gaza – “Usually there are security guarantees in crisis areas” – News

Seven employees of an international aid organization were killed in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip. This is despite the fact that the planned trips were said to have been coordinated with the Israeli military. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that World Central Kitchen aid workers were killed “unintentionally.” This happens in times of war, he said in a video message. Christina Wille from the security consultancy Insecurity Insight explains how difficult it is for aid organizations to operate in crisis areas.

Christina Will

Director of Insecurity Insight

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The Insecurity Insight organization collects information about crisis areas and assesses the security situation. It makes this information available to aid organizations, among others. Insecurity Insight was founded in 2008.

SRF News: How can such incidents happen when it is clear that aid organizations are active in a crisis area?

Christina Wille: Operations in crisis areas are incredibly dangerous. Of course, civil organizations and all civilians are considered protected under the humanitarian law of war, but the reality is different. One reason is explosive weapons, which as such cannot distinguish between civilians and those involved in the war. The risk for aid organizations in such crisis areas, where explosive weapons are used widely, is therefore very high anyway.

Preparing for this is almost impossible.

The Gaza Strip is small and the people have no means of escape. Are there any ways to work so safely?

Normally the aid organizations contact the parties to the conflict and ask them to promise a security guarantee. They also provide precise information about when and where helpers are moving. In principle, it is assumed that the parties to the conflict will protect this operation and will not attack it under any circumstances. It needs to be clarified why that didn’t happen this time.

How can aid teams specifically prepare for the situation in the Gaza Strip?

Aid organizations prepare very well for operations in crisis areas. The problem in Gaza is the geographical situation. This is a very narrow strip of land, very densely populated, very densely built up. Tremendous amounts of explosives are used on it. Preparing for this is almost impossible. The main preparation is that humanitarian approaches are addressed to the warring parties and that the staff is trained accordingly. That they wear the right clothes and communicate correctly. The situation remains very dangerous.

What are the casualty figures for aid organizations in the Middle East?

Over 150 aid workers have died in the occupied Palestinian territories in recent months. That is as many deaths as we have had to mourn in a whole year in the past. The number of medical staff is much higher – currently around 450. These include doctors, nurses and emergency doctors. The number of people risking their own lives to help others in conflict is shocking.

There are far too many trouble spots that have flared up recently.

What is the security situation for aid organizations in other crisis areas?

We have a depressing situation worldwide. The situation in Sudan remains very difficult – as is the case in Ukraine, Myanmar, Syria and the Congo. There are far too many trouble spots that have flared up recently. What the aid organizations would have to do exceeds what is possible at the moment. This is simply tragic.

The interview was conducted by Rachel Beroggi.

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