Although the motives for killing a humanitarian worker may seem incomprehensible, the reason for the violence is actually quite simple, according to Gerald Anderson
, who is in charge of global safety and security for the American Red Cross
."It all comes down to diminished respect for the Red Cross emblem.We used to have a level of protection because no one targeted the Red Cross.Now we are being lumped together with other aid agencies - and the U.N. - some of which are viewed to have a political or religious agenda," Anderson
Trouble spots, such as Ethiopia, pose grave dangers to relief workers.
In response to increasing security concerns, the American Red Cross
recently hired Anderson
to address security issues."It's an unpredictable world and there are inherent dangers," Anderson
said."What we do is not normal 9 to 5 work, so we have to do as much as possible to make sure our delegates are safe." Anderson is working with Red Cross delegates abroad to create security plans, which addresses everything from how to map evacuation routes to how to approach a military checkpoint.The American Red Cross
also is gearing up its security training for international workers with classes that also address these issues. The ICRC
– the lead Red Cross
organization in disseminating information about International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions as well as bringing aid to victims of war - strives to communicate the idea that the Red Cross is an impartial symbol."You have to be neutral.You can't take sides or you put yourself in danger," Christen said.
...The American Red Cross
has a particularly hard time with distrust among warring factions, especially when the United States military has entered the conflict, Anderson
said.In some areas, such as the Balkans or Sudan where many people distrust the West, American Red Cross workers have not used equipment or worn clothing marked by the American Red Cross logo.Instead, they use the ICRC logo, which does not associate them with the United States.
"That's the strength of the Red Cross Movement.You can identify with the entire International Movement, which gives you better protection," said Anderson, who has worked as a Red Cross delegate in Kosovo, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania.
Violence Against Relief Workers on Rise
Besides those who work for the Red Cross
, other relief workers face similar dangers.Humanitarian organizations agree that the threats to their workers have increased in recent years as they venture into more remote areas and as wars become more barbaric and involve more parties.With every act of violence against any humanitarian worker, it becomes more apparent that relief workers are never immune from the violence surrounding their work.In the past few years, hundreds of relief workers have been victims, many of them losing their lives.