In Wake of Slayings, Reflecting on Courage of Aid Workers

Humanitarian organizations and their workers face many dangers. Their work often pulls them into crisis zones that pose safety risks outside of the human experience or understanding of many average donors and nonprofit workers.

In particularly tragic circumstances, these risks can prove fatal.

On June 2, seven Afghan employees of the Czech nonprofit People in Need (PIN) and two guards were shot and killed, some in their sleep. Assailants attacked one of the NGO’s compounds in Northern Afghanistan. Local officials blamed the Taliban for the attack.

PIN has operated in Afghanistan since 2001. According to the organization’s website, the group’s operations are “based on the ideas of humanism, freedom, equality and solidarity.”

Just two weeks prior to the tragedy, another horrific attack transpired in Kabul, in which the Taliban attacked a guesthouse popular with foreign aid workers. Fourteen individuals were killed, including a British citizen who worked for the British Council, a U.S. Citizen, four Indian nationals, two Pakistanis, and an Italian citizen.

Over the past year, a host of tragic slayings of humanitarian workers occurred in territories controlled by the pseudo-state ISIS. In February, Kayla Mueller – a 26-year old U.S. citizen – was slain by ISIS after being held for 18 months. Another U.S. citizen (and also former solider) Peter Kassig was executed in November of 2014. In September of last year, British citizen and aid worker David Haines was killed by ISIS.

These tragedies are a jarring reminder of the extreme situations that require humanitarian aid. Driven by a desire to ameliorate others’ suffering, humanitarian workers deserve recognition not only for their selflessness, but also their immense courage.

Fundamentally tied to the conditions of suffering that aid organizations work to alleviate, the violence that claimed these brave lives only reenforces the import of humanitarian work in these regions. Without stable communities fostering peace, extremism only worsens, claiming more innocent lives.

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