Permanent Representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Geneva, Switzerland

New training course for aid workers in crisis areas

Sadly, aid workers in crisis areas all too often fall victim to violence themselves. This has led Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen to set up customised training courses for this group of people, so that they are even better prepared for their work and have good access to the civilian population.

The training will be given by the Netherlands Institute for International Relations – the ‘Clingendael Institute’ – in The Hague. The minister announced this initiative in an opinion piece that was published in several newspapers on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day. She writes:

"In war zones it is often dictatorial regimes, rebel groups or terrorist organisations that decide who should be allowed to aid the population. At a time when we can no longer count on belligerents to obey the law of war, aid organisations have to negotiate with these parties. The alternative is being completely barred from doing their work, which would deprive hundreds of thousands of people of the resources they need to survive. At the same time, these aid workers must always remain, in the words of the Red Cross, ‘independent, neutral and impartial’. It is a difficult balance to strike.

I want to help them to find this balance. I want to give them the skills to negotiate effectively and safely, without sacrificing their neutrality. I have therefore decided to finance a new training course for humanitarian aid workers, with a special focus on local forces. The emphasis in the courses will be on the psychology of negotiating and the development of individual skills. Other groups behind the initiative are the Clingendael Institute and aid organisations like the Red Cross, UNHCR, and the World Food Programme. Previous courses given by the Clingendael Institute have already achieved results, giving Syrian women a powerful voice in an arduous political process. The Syrian Women’s Advisory Board is now advising the special UN envoy on the negotiations."