Humanitarian aid: insecurity data

The Annual Report of the Aid Worker Security Database was published in the days following the assassination of 7 members of the NGO ACTED, as well as the president of Kouré Park, on August 9, 2020. This assassination in Niger was later claimed by the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS), the regional branch of Daech. It strongly affected the international humanitarian community and particularly French NGOs.

In this context, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, recalled in his speech to the UN General Assembly on 22 September that since the creation of a World Humanitarian Day by the United Nations in 2003, 5,000 humanitarians had been victims of attacks and 1,800 had been assassinated. He added: “This is why, together with French NGOs and our international partners, we are building an initiative to ensure the effectiveness of international law, the protection of humanitarian personnel and the fight against impunity.

These issues of protection, impunity and obstacles to humanitarian aid caused by anti-terrorist laws will be on the agenda of the next National Humanitarian Conference (CNH) which will take place in mid-December in Paris and which Défis Humanitaires will cover for you. To put the insecurity figures in perspective, we invite you to read the article “What protection for humanitarians? ».

Source: Data from the Aid Worker Security Report 2020 (AWSR).

Défis Humanitaires has produced the graphs and tables presented below based on AWSR 2020 figures.

Other sources on security:

Scope of the AWSR study:

  • The data are from 1997 to 2019;
  • The year 2020 is up to 6 September 2020.

Number of humanitarian workers

  • The number of aid workers in the field has grown significantly in recent years. In 2019, there were approximately 569,600 aid workers, an increase of more than 320% since 1997. (Source: UN info –

Number of victims

  • In relative terms, the rate of aggression against humanitarians remains relatively stable, i.e. there are approximately 40 to 60 victims per 100,000 humanitarians per year. As a reminder, in Secourir Sans Périr (Secourir sans Périr, Paris, CNRS Editions, March 2016, 251 p., p. 115), M. NEUMAN and F. WEISSMAN state that “the number of victims (…) remains remarkably stable in relative terms: the rate of workers killed, injured or kidnapped fluctuates between 40 and 60 per 100,000 per year between 1997 and 2012”.


  • Over the period 1997 – 2019, there was a general increase in security incidents against humanitarians. The year 2019 is the year with the highest number of incidents recorded against humanitarians (since 1997). A total of 483 aid workers were killed, kidnapped or injured in 277 separate attacks.

It should be noted that in 2019, medical personnel were particularly targeted by the attackers (42% of the humanitarian aid workers killed).


Number of national humanitarian workers

  • It is the national humanitarians who are the most exposed (attention: take into account the fact that there are more of them in the field than expatriates in an average ratio of about 1 to 10).

Number of expatriate humanitarian workers

Number of humanitarian victims per country

The whole table, here: Table 5

  • Over the period 1997 – 2019, the 10 most “dangerous” countries are: Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, DRC, Pakistan, CAR and Iraq. These 10 countries account for 74% of the total number of victims over the period studied.

The whole table, here: Table 6

  • If we focus on the last 5 years, i.e. 2015 – 2020, the 10 countries where the most humanitarian aid workers have been attacked are: South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, DRC, Somalia, DRC, Mali, Nigeria and Yemen (83% of all victims).

Location of incidents

  • The majority of attacks against humanitarians take place on the road, during displacement (over the period 1997 – 2019).

Figures for 2020 as of 6 September

As of 6 September 2020, the AWSD has counted 204 victims for the year 2020, including 75 dead, 69 injured and 60 kidnapped.

More specifically, 190 victims were national workers (67 dead, 68 injured and 55 kidnapped).

Of the 14 international aid workers attacked, 8 died (Acted), 1 was injured and 5 were kidnapped.


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