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The team leader normally carries out a security assessment before a final decision is taken to deploy, and certainly before the arrival of the main team. It is done preferably by an assessment visit and, where a visit is not possible, by remote assessment.
If a team is already in the area, for example carrying out a development programme before the emergency began, then their existing security assessment should be used to inform the security assessment for the humanitarian team.
The aim of the security assessment is to understand the situation sufficiently to enable the team to plan their security measures appropriately.
A security assessment visit should be long enough to achieve its aim. Factors influencing the length of the visit include:
A security assessment can be combined with other aims, for example a needs assessment.
A remote assessment (i.e. an assessment without visiting the area concerned), may occasionally be necessary, if a visit is not possible. It should seek to answer the same questions as an assessment visit. It is much harder to do so because it is not possible to talk to the same people, or in the same way, if one is limited to telecommunications. A remote assessment is therefore much less reliable than an assessment visit, and is no substitute for a visit if possible.
A remote assessment should be checked and revised as necessary, as soon as the first staff deploy.
A suggested method for a security assessment is at Annex 26 of the ECHO Generic Security Guide for Humanitarian Organisations.
This is an extract, with minor adaptations, from the ECHO Generic Security Guide for Humanitarian Organisations, © Copyright the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid – ECHO. Available here as a free download online, in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.