War Child works in areas and countries affected by war, where in some places armed conflict is still going on. There is a constant risk of incidents or conflicts flaring up again. In War Child's line of work it is impossible to guarantee complete security, but everything is done to manage the risks as well as possible.
Fighting outside the gates in Sri Lanka
In 2007, it was very turbulent in the area at the centre of activities in the Batticaloa province in Sri Lanka. Children could hear bombing and shooting back and forth from the Tamil Tigers. In response to this increasing threat, War Child's partner organisations trained their creative workshop leaders in security measures. They learnt what to do in case the centres were attacked. Children were instructed not to go outside in the case of sudden strikes, which often involve violence. When they heard gunfire in the centres, they were taught to lie on the ground and cover their ears.
To prepare expatriates adequately to cope with security risks, they receive a three-day security awareness course before being sent abroad. The course covers areas such as intimidation, land mines and kidnapping. Managers follow a course in security management, if possible in the area of work, together with colleagues from other organisations.
War Child has drawn up a general security policy with indicators for security levels based on the United Nations system. This way, decisions can be made based on warnings by the UN. The security situation is monitored and there are five levels corresponding to the following situations: normal, alert, prepare for evacuation, evacuation and temporary suspension of project. Each situation involves specific security measures. Under the general security policy, a security plan has been drawn up with specific guidelines and criteria for each country where War Child is active. The Country director is responsible for the development of and compliance with the security policy. The policy is reviewed annually and adapted if necessary. In 2008, 'audits' will be conducted in a number of countries to determine whether the security plans are appropriate and being used correctly.
In 2007, War Child strived towards improving its response to security incidents in the field. This will be followed up by a review, simulation exercise and staff training in 2008. When making plans, the influence of security problems on the implementation of policy is taken into account. The attacks on international organisations and their employees in Afghanistan mean that, for example, it is difficult to find international employees. Overseas employees are, however, important for independent management and specialist knowledge; hence, the reason why War Child is developing a number of scenarios with various security situations and sees the implications for these on the presence of employees and, ultimately, the scale of the programme.