By An-Sofie Leenknecht, Human Rights Coordinator
At EDF this summer, we participated in a travel safety and security awareness training, organised by our partners in the VIVID: T project and ILS.
During the training, we learned about how to be safe and confident while travelling, what the risks might be and what we can do to reduce the likelihood of a safety or security incident occurring while abroad, including for persons with disabilities.
In the last 30 years, the number of victims and incidents has increased in the humanitarian working context. 2021 Aid Worker Security Database report more violent crimes and more staff of international and local NGOs being affected. Thinking about safety (i.e. protecting yourself against unintentional acts such as a car accident) and security (i.e. protection against intentional acts as a bombing) is crucial when planning travel abroad.
What you can put in place?
Before travelling, list all the risks that can harm you (human, natural or technological), the likelihood that it will happen, and its impact. Assess what you can do to prevent and remedy the harm done.
Your age, gender, appearance, sexual orientation, etc. are personal factors that can increase your risk of being a victim of an incident. The history of the country, its culture, the political and socio-economic situation can also contribute to being more at risk. All these elements need to be included in the risk assessment. Make sure to talk to your local partners as they might have the most up-to-date information about the situation of the country you are travelling to.
Based on the risk assessment, you can develop a security plan for your travel. This plan should contain general information about the country you are travelling to, such as health, hospitals, roads, political situations, embassies, etc. It should also contain a specific plan for the activities that you will undertake during your travel. The plan should assess the level of threats and how these can be lowered by taking certain protection measures. After the travel, debrief as this will be useful for colleagues who travel to the country another time.
The plan should also be inclusive and accessible for all colleagues and people travelling with you, such as interpreters, local staff, personal assistants. It should be easy to read and understand.
Travel contact form
The travel contact form should have the information of the people who should be contacted when you are in an incident and all other relevant information, such as the details of your flight, hotels, local staff contact, and site visit plans. A copy of the travel contact form could be left at your office desk and a copy at home.
During an incident, call one of your contact people and give the following information in 5 to 10 seconds: “Who you are? Where you are? What has happened? What do you need? What have you done? What do you do next?” If you have more time, then you can expand and give more details.
Accessible alternatives should be foreseen for colleagues with disabilities to report incidents. Reporting incidents should also be done for nearly gone wrong situations, to lower the likelihood of the incident happening next time.
For more information about EDF’s internal policies on security and safety while traveling, please contact EDF International Cooperation Manager, Marion Steff (Marion.Steff@edf-feph.org).