Personal security preparation workshop – also in 2019

In order to best meet the training needs of professionals and organisations in international cooperation, cinfo offers the Pre-departure Security Workshop. Daniel Glinz, senior Advisor and Trainer at cinfo, explains the why and how of this workshop.

Interview: Jérôme Faivre

For whom is the workshop intended?

All those involved in humanitarian aid, development cooperation, peace promotion, etc., who are preparing for a mission abroad, as well as accompanying persons, whom we too often forget are exposed to the same risks. Regardless of whether these persons will be in the field for three days, three weeks, or three years,  they will have the the basics for personal security and stress management by the end of the workshop.

What does the workshop cover?

We look at everyday situations which could pose risks and sensitise participants on how to anticipate such risks. Examples include how to choose appropriate hotel rooms, residences and means of transportation; how to prevent security incidents, or protect oneself and mitigate the consequences if they occur; how to communicate and negotiate with officials and weapon bearers at roadblocks or check-points; how to behave when facing sexual harrassment, threatening individuals, or angry crowds; and simple techniques to help prevent and cope with stress.

Is it really necessary to prepare for all this? Isn’t it being overly cautious?

It is important to remember that the vast majority of incidents in the field are caused by slips and falls, road accidents, and infectuous diseases as a result of insufficient preparedness (mosquito bites or inadequate hygiene). Similarly, most of the stressful and insecure moments occur in daily situations and are often linked to a lack of experience and understanding of the cultural context. Compared to these security risks, the risk of explosions or kidnapping is minimal!

How does this workshop differ from those offered by organisations to their staff?

If only everyone prepared themselves! People are often sent out in great urgency and with inadequate preparation. Yet most incidents occur in the first three months after arrival. As far as I know, it seems that only a few among the larger organisations sufficiently prepare their employees before departure.

Which regions in particular require good preparation before departure?

Unfortunately, such a basic workshop is required for all regions and destinations, even if we are only going on holiday. Certainly, the chances of coming across a minefield or an improvised explosive device are lower in London than in Yemen, Sudan or Laos, and mortar attacks are more frequent in Ukraine and Syria than in Barcelona or Mexico City. Nevertheless,misunderstandings and petty crime exist in all large cities and there is always a risk of mass demonstrations spilling over and becoming violent.

Different destinations require different security related preparations. How do you respond to participants’ individual needs?

In order to personally prepare participants for very different contexts, we limit their number to a maximum of six per group. To ensure that they are well prepared for their particular context, a few days before the course we ask participants to consult a number of websites for information on the situation in the country where they are going.

This workshop is only for one day. Is this sufficient?

Of course it is impossible to prepare for all potentially dangerous situations within one day. It is for this reason that we focus mostly on training participants to anticipate and assess risks in a particular context. We also take into account participants’ previous experiences. Rather than abstract theory, the course is built around concrete situations that are approached practically and reflected and discussed in the group. We aim to increase participants’ alertness and share tips and tricks to avoid potentially stressful situations immediately after arrival. Once participants have acquired these essential reflexes, they have the basics of security and stress management and will be well-equipped to confidently and safely move in their new environment.

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More information: Pre-departure Security Workshop

Pre-departure Security Workshop

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