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3 J. Int'l Humanitarian Action 1 (2018)

handle is hein.journals/jinthuma3 and id is 1 raw text is: Kalkman Journal of International Humanitarian Action (2018) 3:1
DOI 10.1186/s41018-018-0029-4

Journal of International
Humanitarian Action

A P          A *                                                                                                 6.-        *     -


Practices and consequences of using
humanitarian technologies in volatile aid
Jori Pascal Kalkman123

The areas in which aid workers are operating can be
extremely volatile and appear to be much more danger-
ous than a few decades ago. Sheik et al. (2000), for in-
stance, studied aid worker deaths in the period from
1985 to 1998 and report fewer than 40 casualties per
year (except for 1993 and 1994). The latest Aid Worker
Security Report, however, demonstrates that in the last
10 years, the number of intentional aid worker deaths
never dropped below 70. In 2016 alone, 288 aid workers
were victimized in 158 attacks (Stoddard et al. 2017:2).
Although the relative numbers may look different (as
the total number of aid workers is likely to have
increased as well), there is general consensus that
humanitarian     contexts   have   become     increasingly
dangerous for humanitarian agencies (Cunningham
Correspondence: j.p.kalkman@vu.nl
Department of Organization Sciences, VU University, De Boelelaan 1105,
1081 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Department of Management, Organisation and Defence Economics,
Netherlands Defence Academy, De la Reyweg 120, 4818BB Breda, The
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article

1Z Springer Open

The reasons for such violence may be various. They
can root in the jihadist battle against the West in
general, including international non-governmental orga-
nizations (NGOs) and the United Nations (UN) (see
Canter and Sarangi 2009), which accounts for attacks on
aid workers by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL) and the Taliban. Others state that attacks against
aid agencies are a result of the blurring of lines between
Western security (or political) interests and humanitar-
ian or development aid, leaving aid workers more vul-
nerable to attacks by those opposing these Western
interests (Collinson and Duffield 2013; Duffield 2010;
Egeland et al. 2011). Former Secretary of State Colin
Powell's (2001) depiction of NGOs as a force multiplier
for us, such an important part of our combat team is
seen as indicative of this trend, just like the attacks on
the UN and the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Lastly, a considerable number of attacks are also eco-
nomically motivated or have local political reasons and
can therefore be attributed to criminals, dissatisfied
opposition, or ethnic groups (Abild 2010; Gundel 2006).

© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to
the Creative Commons license. and indicate if chanoes were made.

This article presents the results of an exploratory study into aid agencies' use of technologies for security purposes. Since
there appears to be a consensus in the aid sector that areas of operations are increasingly dangerous, aid agencies are
upgrading their security strategies by adopting technological innovations. I conducted Skype interviews with security
managers and country directors responsible for operations in dangerous countries. These interviews show that
humanitarian technologies are more and more used in volatile countries for security reasons. In this light, I empirically
assess the critique of some academics (1) that risks are not mitigated but transferred to more vulnerable actors, (2) that
technology is not a neutral fix but has local political repercussions, and (3) that international and national aid workers
grow increasingly distant from their local counterparts and the people they aim to help. This article contributes to the
literature by critically re-evaluating and nuancing these critiques.
Keywords: Humanitarian technologies, Remote management, Security management, Aid sector, Risk, Local politics,

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