Hundreds of thousands of people travel the globe each year doing volunteer work. Most of these servants have great experiences and do not encounter situations where they are harmed or their safety is at risk. We do, however, live in a volatile world where anything can happen. We have seen in recent years that even places once considered safe have had security incidents.
When you lead a humanitarian team abroad, you not only are responsible to make sure the team’s mission is successful, but also that they are kept as safe and secure as possible. One way to do that is to make sure you have good information before you travel.
Always do background checks on the country you are traveling to even if you have been there many times before, as circumstances can quickly change.
There are several good government sources for information. The U.S. State Department at www.travel.state.gov provides general country information as well as specific travel advisories. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides similar information but from a different perspective at http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/ and their Australian counterpart at http://www.smarttraveller.gov.au/.
Another excellent government site is the Overseas Security Advisory Council (www.osac.gov) where you can search security related news by region or country. They also have an extensive online library of reports covering topics such as food security, evacuation planning, financial scams, and much more.
You also will want to monitor media reports from the country or region. Many countries have English newspapers or English versions of local newspapers that you can read online.
Your local contacts are usually some of your best sources of information. Remember, however, that they are looking at things through the lens of a national. What may not pose a security issue for them may be an issue for foreigners.
At Humanitarian Travel we not only save you money on your international volunteer trips, but we also provide tools, tips and information to help make those trips safe and successful. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and catch all of our daily updates.