Attacks on aid workers on the rise according to humanitarian research organisation

Aid workers suffered a record 277 major attacks around the world last year, an independent humanitarian research organisation said on Monday, with healthcare workers responding to crises facing a spike in deadly violence.

A total of 483 aid workers were killed, kidnapped, or wounded in 2019, showed data from Humanitarian Outcomes, the highest number since the start of its records in 1997.

“The ability to help vulnerable civilians in their hour of greatest need is a sign of civilisation; it’s a right under international law,” Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in response to the figures.

“But we are seeing an increasing number of colleagues killed, abducted, wounded … If aid workers are not protected, lifelines will falter.”

Although casualties were up overall, the number of aid worker who were killed dropped slightly to 125, from 131 a year previously, according to the data, which draws on public reports, security organisations and aid groups.

Health workers made up more than 40% of the fatalities – higher than any previous year recorded – according to analysis for the upcoming “Aid Worker Security Report” which is due to be released later this month.

Health staff have been repeatedly targeted in Syria, which was named the most violent country for aid workers, with 47 attacks and 36 fatalities last year.