In Their Own Words: Why Armed Fighters Attack Aid Workers

In the first study of its kind, researchers ask members of Al Shabaab, the Haqqani Network and the Taliban to explain why they attack the humanitarians trying to help them.
Mourners carry the coffin of one of six Afghan employees of the Red Cross, killed in an attack in a remote northern province in February. / FARSHAD USYAN / Getty Images

Why would anyone want to harm an aid worker?

They're just there to help. They don't take sides. They're protected by international humanitarian law. Yet they've repeatedly been the target of some of the worst forms of violence, from kidnapping to gang rape to beheadings. In 2016 alone, 288 aid workers were attacked.

Now we can finally begin to answer that question. For the first time, researchers asked some of the perpetrators to justify their hostile attitudes toward aid operations. The responses were published in on aid worker attacks by the research group .

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