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Dangerous intervention: an analysis of humanitarian fatalities in assistance contexts
Abbott, Marianne

2006, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Sociology.
Humanitarian aid agencies are challenged by a tragic aspect of their missions – fatal attacks on assistance providers. Since the early 1990s, fatal attacks leveled at aid personnel have included a broad range of events and a large number of incidents, spanning from random violence to premeditated murder. To describe these events in the most comprehensive terms possible, I have constructed of a database of news-reported aid worker fatalities from 1991 to 2004 that identifies 1,102 deaths, almost 1,000 of which result from violent attacks. The data source validation component of this research consists of intra- and extra-source validity evaluations. While no available source of information will capture all fatality incidents, results from the intra-source analysis indicate that the coverage of humanitarian deaths provided by the news is consistent among news outlets. Results from the extra-source analysis indicate larger disparities are related to the comprehensiveness of incident coverage. In sum, these evaluations confirm that all data sources are selective, but in predictable ways. The key to this evaluation was the detection of these filters. In the descriptive section, the news dataset presents the following broad trends: (1) Insurgent actors perpetrate violent attacks on humanitarian personnel with the highest frequencies; (2) Violent attacks account for 87 percent of the humanitarian assistance deaths; (3) Fatalities are highest among international governmental organization (IGO) personnel; and (4) Fatality counts are highest in Africa. I additionally refine variables that identify the nature of these attacks, the agents involved, and the intentions behind these attacks. Implications of this research relate both to the use of events data as well as to the critical issue of humanitarian security. Analyses overwhelmingly support the assertion that news data are a valid and rich source of information. Further, results from the intentionality study suggest that news data may provide more than “who did what to whom, when and where” information. At least in the case of humanitarian fatalities, it is possible to extract “why” information from news sources by assessing details that may appear in a news report.
J. Jenkins (Advisor)
213 p.

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Abbott, M. (2006). Dangerous intervention: an analysis of humanitarian fatalities in assistance contexts. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Abbott, Marianne. "Dangerous intervention: an analysis of humanitarian fatalities in assistance contexts." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2006. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 31 Aug 2015.

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Abbott, Marianne "Dangerous intervention: an analysis of humanitarian fatalities in assistance contexts." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2006. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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