Security assessment

I hadn’t expected the next killings of expats to come so quickly.

Though the deaths of the DHL staff are murkier in their motives – was it a suicide shooting? – a grievance? – a what? – concentrating too much on why these guys were killed takes attention away from the fact that they were killed. Does it matter if it was armed opposition groups or armed criminal groups or Taliban. Or, as is often the case these days, maybe it was Taliban subcontracting to criminal groups. Or maybe it was criminals with Taliban sympathies. You can ride the speculation train for a long time.

But like I said, maybe it doesn’t matter so much. Yet somehow, and I hesitate to write this, it still feels different to Gail’s killing. Is it because I knew Gail? Is it because Gail was an aid worker? Is it because Gail was killed so close to our home? And because today’s killings feel different, we are still not pushed over the edge to leave here.

Am I simply justifying not making the decision to leave? Is the killing of these two men so different? Presumably, they got up, got dressed, putting their pants on one leg at a time, as usual. Ate breakfast, came to work.  I am sure they would have known about Gail, but they must have thought they were different. I can see their reasoning: ‘Her death was over there. She took risks, walking the street. She was an aid worker. She was a Christian. Our situation is different.’

Maybe the routes were different, but they all ended up in the same morgue.

Well. After some thought, I did make up a self-assessment sheet for the expat staff to fill out each month, as a means to monitor changes in how they perceive security, and how they feel about it. Hopefully it will help us avoid accommodating and justifying and minimising the negative changes (which we all do). I hope it can help us retain a bit of objectivity, and see more clearly how things have changed. 

Assuming we are still here in a month to fill out the next one.

For anyone interested in using  the tool, feel free. It is not onerous (or people never use such things): Security threat assessment expat staff

I’m working on a similar tool for national staff.

And thanks again for the comments and care.


4 thoughts on “Security assessment

  1. Just wanted to say that you and your family are in my prayers, for your safety and also to be able to make good decisions.
    I’ve been reading your blog for ages, and like Natasha, you are the first people I thought of when I saw that more expats had been killed.
    Best of luck.

  2. Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia alike, aid workers seem to become a “free for all” target.

    The motivation? Making a statement. Free press. Linking any expat with foreign military forces. Hate. Criminality.

    2008 is heading to be the worst year ever for aid workers. A sad world record.

  3. Great reasoning, hope it’s a great decision. I really like the idea of the form. Might want to send a copy to NGO Security. (

    The absurdity that a perfectly valid response to a week from hell like this is to make a new form is not lost on me — I’m smiling. I hope it’s not lost on you either, and that you can chuckle a bit too. When you’ve lost your sense of humor, the terrorists have won!


  4. Any of you guys would be a great loss to the world. You obviously have your reasons for being there thus far, when most would have fled. Before the risks sounded more accidental, but when your kind is being specifically and locally targetted, umm, thats different isn’t it ? Please God, look after the Sparrows.

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