Press Release

Protect Humanitarians: an alliance aimed at strengthening protection and support for humanitarian actors in the field

Protect Humanitarians: an alliance aimed at strengthening protection and support for humanitarian actors in the field cover
March 14, 2024

With over 500 humanitarian workers killed, injured or kidnapped in 2023 worldwide, the humanitarian sector is facing a growing challenge of protecting its members. This has led Olivier Vandecasteele, himself a humanitarian worker, to launch Protect Humanitarians, an initiative that aims to strengthen the protection and support provided for actors on the ground. As an independent and pluralist foundation which itself works to promote solidarity, the King Baudouin Foundation is supporting this innovative. The Fund ‘Protect Humanitarians’ is now open for donations for use in providing support for humanitarian workers who are victims of critical incidents whilst carrying out their duties.

According to the UN, around 300 million vulnerable people across the world, who are victims of conflict, forced displacement or natural disasters, will require humanitarian assistance in 2024. On all continents of the world, humanitarians of many nationalities are mobilising to come to their aid, but not without risk. These workers are finding themselves in dangerous situations and facing growing threats. In many of the countries where they work, the humanitarian space is shrinking and international humanitarian law is often flouted.

Last year alone, over 500 humanitarians* were killed, injured or kidnapped worldwide (Palestine, South-Soudan, Soudan, Ukraine, Mali, RD Congo, …). More than half of them lost their life, making 2023 the most deadly year for humanitarians. Such incidents – which in 94% of cases affect local workers – are under-reported and get little media attention. This level of violence has a significant impact on the teams. Not to mention the almost total impunity of the perpetrators of attacks against aid workers.

*Source: Humanitarian Outcomes, Aid Worker Security Database,

A collective response to a common problem

Launched on the initiative of Olivier Vandecasteele, Protect Humanitarians aims to bring together stakeholders in the humanitarian sector around the common objective of promoting the protection of humanitarians and strengthening support (medical, psychological, material or legal) for those who have survived incidents (or their families in the event of death), with a special focus on local workers and community-based organisations.

Olivier Vandecasteele, explains, “Human rights activists and journalists have organised themselves to collectively defend their members. The humanitarian sector does not have this protection. Humanitarian workers, especially local humanitarian workers, often stand completely alone. That’s why we want to create a platform to discuss attacks on humanitarian workers and develop an effective approach. That is the ambition of Protect Humanitarians: to seek solutions for a shared need that benefits all members of the humanitarian community.”

Specifically, Protect Humanitarians will focus its activities on the following:

  • the promotion of an Emergency Fund, set up within the King Baudouin Foundation, to provide medical, psychological, material and legal aid to humanitarians who have been affected whilst exercising their duties;
  • develop joint advocacy with decision-makers and raise public awareness of the need to protect aid workers;
  • the development and exchange of good practices among experts in order to strengthen the psychological and legal assistance provided to humanitarians who are victims of attack.

This project is able to count on the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, an independent and pluralist foundation whose commitment to solidarity and peace is one of the cornerstones of its activities. In addition to providing financial support to the project, the Foundation is also making its own expertise, network and philanthropy infrastructure available to Project Humanitarians.

Brieuc Van Damme, CEO of the King Baudouin Foundation, comments, “Within the current context of the multiple crises we are experiencing, the King Baudouin Foundation is, more than ever, eager to support actors in the aid sector, whether near or far from home. The Protect Humanitarians project is in line with our own deep commitment to promoting solidarity at national and international level. As a philanthropic hub, we are delighted to contribute to the deployment of this innovative project, which aims to generate a sustainable impact on the entire humanitarian community.”

Would you like to make a donation? The Protect Humanitarians Fund is open to the generosity of individuals, organisations and businesses wishing to contribute to aiding the victims of incidents that occurred during the exercise of their duties. You can make a donation via the bank account IBAN BE10 0000 0000 0404 of the King Baudouin Foundation mentioning “240410 Fund Protect Humanitarians” or with a structured communication +++623/3863/40096+++.
It is also possible to donate online.

Donations of 40 euros or more are entitled to a tax deduction of 45%.

About the King Baudouin Foundation

The King Baudouin Foundation’s mission is to contribute to a better society in Belgium, in Europe and elsewhere in the world. It is an actor for change and innovation, serving the public interest and increasing social cohesion. It seeks to maximise its impact by improving skills in organisations and for individuals. It also stimulates effective philanthropy by individuals and corporations. The King Baudouin Foundation was set up in 1976, on the 25th anniversary of King Baudouin’s reign.

About Protect Humanitarians

Protect Humanitarians aims to strengthen protection and increase support for humanitarian actors on the ground – in particular, local humanitarian workers. The initiative focuses on:

  • Emergency support for humanitarians affected by critical incidents;
  • Advocacy and awareness-raising to improve the protection of humanitarian workers;
  • Exchanging expertise and best practice on mental health assistance for humanitarians after critical incidents;
  • Legal aid to combat the impunity for the perpetrators of attacks.

Managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Protect Humanitarians Fund is open to donations from individuals, organisations and companies wishing to contribute to the medical, psychological and legal support of humanitarian workers who are victims of critical incidents.

In 2023, more than 500 humanitarian workers were killed, injured or kidnapped around the world, and more than half of them lost their lives. In 94% of cases, the victims were local humanitarian workers.