Event: Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks – Attacks During a Pandemic

On 11th May 2022 Insecurity Insight and RIAH co-hosted a session giving a practical view on the principles of risk sharing

The Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) is an annual humanitarian conference, one of the largest events of its kind, that provides a collaborative space for practitioners and experts from a large variety of humanitarian stakeholders including UN agencies, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, academia, the military, private sector initiatives, and Member States.

The global COVID-19 pandemic placed unprecedented demands on health systems in most countries around the world. Health providers struggled to keep pace with the rising care needs, and many health structures experienced massive disruptions to their provision of health care services. As a public health control measure, many governments imposed lockdowns and started vaccination programmes. As infection rates surged across the world’s regions and countries, threats and violence against health providers flared up.

Attacks on health providers are not a new phenomenon. The Ebola health emergency in the DRC also triggered a rise in violence against health providers. Insecurity and conflict have long affected the security of health workers. 

Monitoring of publicly reported incidents documented over 500 events of threats and violence against health workers directly related to the pandemic response and close to 100 violent incidents targeting vaccination drives against multiple diseases in the past years. 

In this session, we discussed threats and violence against the health sector during the global COVID-19 pandemic and the Ebola outbreaks in the DRC. We looked at violence against vaccination programmes and discussed practical measures that protect health workers in insecure working environments. This included looking at practical measures to prevent and mitigate mob attacks on hospitals and how integration of attacks on healthcare into a protection cluster framework can improve our understanding about the extent to which violence against healthcare prevents access to healthcare. We asked questions around risk sharing between donors, NGOs, implementing partners and frontline workers. 

The speakers were:
Christina Wille, Director, Insecurity Insight.  
Christina presented trends in threats and violence against healthcare since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and during the Ebola crisis in the DRC.

Sarah Gordts, Researcher, Insecurity Insight.
Sarah discussed the data on threats and violence against vaccinators based on five years of data. You can find out more about the impact of violence on vaccinations on our blog series.

Tom van Herwijnen, Global Security & Safeguarding Manager Christian Blind Mission (CBM).
Tom shared ideas for practical measures that medical facilities can take to protect themselves from mob violence. He argued that INGOs/donors and their medical implementing partners should actively work together (adopting the shared risk principle) in all stages of the project management cycle to protect medical infrastructure and staff. A strong focus should be on building up acceptance (as a security strategy) with local stakeholders.

Insecurity Insight have produced a recommendations document related to security from mob attacks and will continue to work on guidance related to this.

Camille Gillardeau, Regional Security and Safety Director for the International Rescue Committee.
Camile provided practical examples of successes to overcome those challenges through strong and planned relationships between the partners.

The session was moderated by Róisín Read, Research Fellow on the RIAH Project.