July 16, 2015 / 6:18 PM / 4 years ago

Afghanistan still most perilous country for aid workers: consultancy

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Afghanistan, torn by conflict for more than three decades, kept its place as the most dangerous country for aid workers in 2014, when more than a quarter of all attacks on aid staff took place there, the consulting group Humanitarian Outcomes said.

Smoke and fire rise from a foreign aid workers' guest house after a Taliban attack in Kabul November 29, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Worldwide, there were 190 attacks on humanitarian operations in 2014, a fall of about 30 percent from the all-time high the year before, the group said in the preview of a report.

In all, 329 aid workers were attacked in 27 countries, of whom 120 were killed, 88 wounded and 121 kidnapped, according to the forthcoming Aid Worker Security Report 2015.

“The number of casualties being lower in 2014 than a year before says more about the spike in 2013 than about the conditions for aid workers getting any safer,” Abby Stoddard, one of the report’s authors, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The number of attacks in 2014 is still higher than in any previous year. Aid agencies have not become more risk averse but are changing their mode of operating.”

Stoddard said the numbers were driven by just a few highly insecure conflict environments, with almost 65 percent of all attacks occurring in just five countries: Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Pakistan.

There were 54 attacks last year on aid workers in Afghanistan, where security has been deteriorating since foreign troops began withdrawing in 2011.

The violence shows little sign of abating in 2015.

Nine Afghan employees of a Czech-backed aid group, People in Need, were shot and killed by unidentified militants in northern Balkh province in June.

In April the bodies of five Afghan aid workers employed by Save the Children were found 39 days after their abduction by the Taliban in the central province of Uruzgan.

The final Aid Worker Security Report 2015 will be published in the autumn.

Reporting by Magdalena Mis, editing by Tim Pearce; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org

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