It should be easy to tell the difference between an aid worker and a jihadist, but the war in Syria shows that is not always the case. Finding a solution could help ensure aid still reaches the people who need it in future conflicts.
A desire to ease the suffering of ordinary Syrians during its years of civil war has been shared by many people around the world.
But getting aid into Syria and making sure it reaches the right people is extremely difficult.
The conflict is complex and jihadists took advantage of the ensuing confusion – particularly at the start of the war – with some aid money diverted and foreign fighters entering the country by posing as aid workers.
Charities and aid have been exploited by extremists in previous conflicts – in countries from Bosnia to Afghanistan.
So, how can they be stopped from doing so in future?
In Syria, research by the Lowy Institute shows how extremists have often portrayed themselves as champions of the oppressed, with many claiming to be working with children and orphans.
Full article at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42861695
I’ve met the author, and was part of a training activity that included us both once upon a time. While I do not necessarily agree with all of his views, the question is a good – and troubling – one, with no easy answer. Most NGOs and International Organizations (IOs) have no or limited capacity to fully vet staff, even less so when staff are contracted directly in a conflict or a post-conflict zone, or even a relatively stable country office environment. And this reality is not specific to jehadis, but any type of terrorist, insurgent or similar actor regardless of religion, ethnicity, etc. One need only look at Africa, Latin America for non-jehadi examples.