5. Safety and security assessments
A thorough assessment of the safety and security situation must be undertaken when an emergency occurs. If the emergency occurs in a country where CARE has no presence, the basics of safety and security will have to be developed. In countries where CARE already has a long-term presence, existing security systems will have to be informed by the new emerging security situation and procedures adapted in response to any new risks. Crisis often changes the security context, and you must be ready to change with it.
The assessment of the security situation involves general assessment; specific assessment of security threats, vulnerabilities and risks; and an assessment of the safety and security operating conditions. The Safety and Security Officer should form part of this general humanitarian assessment team and will feed into the general assessment which that team is undertaking.
During the security assessment, the Safety and Security Officer will need to examine if the current emergency situation has changed the nature of existing threats. They must identify and prioritise the major causes of both security and safety threats, identify the level of CARE personnel’s exposure to them, and determine how well CARE and other aid organisations are accepted in the current situation. The SSO also needs to identify all insecure, no-go or inaccessible areas, and upcoming events (elections, anniversaries, demonstrations, troop movements, etc.) that may trigger a deterioration of the security situation, and communicate these immediately to the team in the field.
- What was the situation before the emergency or the disaster:
- general history of the country
- demography and society
- political situation
- infrastructure and climate
- What were the general causes of this emergency/conflict?
- Identify the type of emergency:
- Is this a natural disaster, a complex/chronic emergency, are there sudden large movements of population, and is this a combination of different emergencies?
- What is the role of conflict in the emergency? Identify if the conflict is the cause of the humanitarian disaster and is creating humanitarian needs (outbreak of war); or if the conflict is the environment in which another type of disaster is taking place. Natural disaster can also trigger violence on a medium-term basis.
- What are the general causes of this emergency?
- Is this situation a result of disputes over land, control over natural resources, ethnicity or religion, socioeconomic, or due to natural climatic causes?
- Describe how the emergency happened and the impact:
- Describe how the emergency occurred over time and the extent of the damage, and possible future security implications due to this situation.
- Who are the actors involved in this situation?
- Identify their intentions, structure, chain of command, resources and dynamics.
- What is the level of emerging or continuing threats?
- Identify the security issues (conflict activity, crime, availability of small arms, frequent targets and regional dynamics). Are there patterns or potential of violence and/or armed conflict? What is the type of violence?
- What are the affected areas?
- Identify the geographical and environmental characteristics, administrative or political divisions, no-go zones, and accessible/inaccessible areas/roads. How does this, in addition to climate and infrastructure, affect security?
- Who are the affected persons or group of persons?
- What is the composition of this population, including differences and possible tensions and dynamics?
- What is the nature of CARE’s specific vulnerability?
- What is the agency’s reputation/image, nature of programmes, political factors, types of partnership and associations? Which institutions can play a role in improving the protection of staff, assets, programmes and reputation?
What are the safety and security risks?
- Assess CARE knowledge about the current situation.
- List the major cause of problems related to safety and security
- Human-generated’ insecurity
- Endemic illnesses, diseases or other health and safety considerations
- Determine perception and level of acceptance of aid organisations and specifically of CARE.
- Determine vulnerabilities of team members (ethnicity, citizenship).
- Identify and prioritise both security and safety threats:
- Prioritise which threats are more likely to occur or may cause a high impact on CARE personnel and/or assets
- Determine if the current emergency situation and future working areas have changed the nature of existing threats
- Identify all insecure, no-go or inaccessible areas, and communicate these immediately to the team in the field.
- Identify upcoming events (elections, anniversaries, demonstrations, troop movements, etc.) that may trigger a deterioration of the security situation.
Consult CARE International Personal Safety and Security Handbook, Chap 2, pp. 103-170.
- If a CARE office is present, what are the existing policies and/or procedures?
- How could these be adapted due to a change in the situation?
- If a CARE office is not present, what are the existing policies and or procedures of other agencies working in this area?
- What are the national laws impacting on CARE activities, and specific restrictions imposed by government or rebel factions?
- What are additional restrictions or constraints imposed by the situation? (e.g. curfews, localisation of offices/residences, specific nationalities or ethnicities working in certain areas)
What are the available resources?
- Is the telecommunication system suitable for the current operations?
- Is the vehicle fleet adapted to and fit for the emergency deployment?
Interagency coordination and security set-up
- Which agencies are playing a coordination role? Which ones seem to hold security as a primary responsibility? How can CARE increase information gathering by sharing and participating in coordination initiatives?
- How difficult is it to mobilise any new personnel? Ensure persons responsible for hiring can do their best in starting with short contracts and, if possible, conducting background checks, and having good orientation and training.
- Which protection devices will be needed to ensure staff security and safety? Is there a compound perimeter to secure, materials to be purchased, etc.? Are they locally available or must they be imported?
- If resources are required to ensure that safety and security are covered, what pre-existing funds are available? Ensure that safety and security budget requirements are immediately built into proposals and the budget.