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Managing operational risks

War Child works in politically unstable areas. Changes in local government policies and political relationships can form major risks to the continuation of local War Child programmes and may have a significant impact on our ability to reach children and compromise the safety of staff members. To manage these risks to the best of our ability, War Child analyses the political situation when selecting countries and regions for new operations. Excessively risky areas will not be selected for new operations.

Where possible, War Child revises projects to adapt to deteriorating security levels, and gives precedence to the continuation of project activities over addressing politically sensitive issues toward government authorities, which may put our work at risk. If our ability to work within our mandate is severely limited, we will carefully assess the possibility of closing down our operations for the short or long term.

Both risks related to security and risks related to accessing project areas remain real possibilities and may have a significant impact on our ability to reach children and potentially compromise the safety of staff members.

While it is impossible to guarantee complete security in conflict areas, War Child is committed to managing risks to the furthest extent possible, and holds the safety and security of staff as its first priority. In 2013 we continued to update our security plans. All expatriate staff is required to follow a three-day security awareness course, which includes practical sessions on dealing with intimidation, land mines and kidnapping, before starting their assignment. Refresher security trainings were organised for the head office security team and for staff members who regularly travel abroad. Experience in risk management is an important selection criterion for field managers, who also participate in a security management course, if possible in country. Field staff is trained in local security practices and to be aware of potential security risks.

War Child’s general security policy and guidelines form the framework for national security plans in countries, which are monitored using security indicators aligned with those of local governments and other local humanitarian organisations. Security plans regularly undergo an external audit, evaluating plans to the local contexts and assessing how staff practically apply the plans. While all staff has the responsibility to contribute to their own and the organisation’s safety and security, final responsibility lies with line management: country directors in programme countries and the director of programmes at head office.

Child safety

War Child is a member of Keeping Children Safe, a global membership network of organisations striving to ensure children are safeguarded and protected from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. Six child safety incidents related to War Child’s operations were reported in 2013 from Burundi, DR Congo, the Middle East and the Netherlands. For reasons of confidentiality, it is not possible to share more detailed information on these incidents or how they have been managed. The implementation of child safety procedures is not yet up to standard in all countries, but is high on the 2014 agenda.

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