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Operational risks

Children are target in Syrian conflictWar Child works in politically unstable areas. Changes in local government policies and political relationships form major risks for War Child programmes. To manage these risks as best as possible, War Child includes the political situation in its analysis when selecting countries and regions new operations. Excessively unsafe areas will not be selected for new operations. If security deteriorates War Child adapts its projects. When problems arise with authorities, the continuation of War Child’s projects has precedence over issuing statements that may be politically sensitive and place the work at risk.

In the case that our ability to work within our mandate to reach children is severely limited, we will carefully assess the possibility of closing down our operations for a short or longer term. Both risks related to security and risks related to accessing project areas are real possibilities and may have a significant impact on our ability to reach children and potentially compromise the safety of staff members.

Managing security risk

In War Child’s line of work it is impossible to guarantee complete security, but everything is done to manage the risks. Staff members that regularly visit or work in project areas receive a three-day security awareness course at the Centre for Safety and Development, including practical sessions on dealing with intimidation, land mines and kidnapping. Field managers participate in a security management course, if possible, in country. For managers, experience in risk management is an important selection criterion. Field staff is trained to follow local security issues closely and be aware of potential security risks so they can react quickly and adequately.

War Child’s general security policy and guidelines form the basis and outline for national security plans in the programme countries. National-level security plans in programme countries are monitored using security-level indicators in alignment with indicators used by governments and other humanitarian organisations.

The safety of staff will always have the highest priority for War Child. Security plans are regularly externally audited against the local context and how staff practically applies the plans. While War Child clearly gives all staff the responsibility to contribute to their own and the organisation’s safety and security, final responsibility lies with line management: Country Directors within programme countries and the Director of Programmes at the head office.

Working with partners

War Child works with partners in all its programmes including community-based organisations, youth groups, local NGOs, and schools and authorities. War Child enters into agreements with partners based on the deliverables each party will bring to the project. Part of the agreement is a plan for monitoring the project. Monitoring is done on finance and administration, on activities and outputs and on overall quality of the project. Other essentials include signing a child safety policy. Evaluations are conducted at the end of each project, and when appropriate also at mid-term. The relation between War Child and its partners, including complaints procedures, is governed by War Child’s partnership policy.

In the case that a partner organisation performs below expectations, an assessment is made to identify areas and steps for improvement. In some cases the outcome is negative and the project and/or the relation with the partner is terminated. This does not happen frequently, as we try to carefully assess the capacity of partners at the start of the partnership.

War Child international

Together with War Child UK and War Child Canada we have developed field collaboration guidelines to agree on how and when to collaborate in field locations. This to prevent potential risks to each organisation's reputation, or advocacy and communication activities.


Photo Alessio Romenzi , Syria, 2012

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