Humanitarian aid agencies can help beneficiaries, local staff and partners physically prepare themselves today for the violence they may face after we are separated tomorrow. This paper focuses on the many people who are at risk of being killed after events drive us apart. Their supportable capacity for self-preservation is the most neglected truth in our well-worn debates over civilian protection. There often comes a day when we must leave them or they must leave us, and we have missed our chance to help them tactically prepare for imminent threats. We are forced to leave our relief or development work—feeling we have abandoned them. They are forced to leave their communities or camps—and perhaps walk straight into danger.
The paper by Casey A. Barrs cites unorthodox and often-overlooked civilian coping practices, as well as increasing (but scattered) precedents in aid agency support for the capacity of civilians to survive and serve others, alone, amid violence. These are brought together in tangible advisory modules in the life-critical areas of physical safety, economic survival, and local service delivery. Of all possible protections, the ones described in this paper on “preparedness support” will be the last ones standing because they support the abilities of the very people who are left standing alone as violence shuts the world out.