In Qaraqosh, Iraq, an aid worker checks names during aid distribution to a group fleeing Mosul after ISIS took over the city, July 22, 2014. (Vianney Le Caer/Demotix/Corbis)
Attacks on the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) by the US and its allies have forced aid workers in the region to make a range of contingency plans, said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “We're having to be extremely fleet of foot in the way that we continue to service the humanitarian imperative of bringing help to people in need without putting our people in danger,” he told Marie O’Reilly, associate editor at the International Peace Institute.
Mr. Miliband said the crisis in Syria has stretched the humanitarian system to its limit. “If I'd been doing this interview three years ago, and I’d said there would be 200,000 dead, chemical weapons used, nine million displaced within the country, three million refugees in the neighboring countries, many people would have said I was being alarmist.”
The crisis in Syria is forcing the humanitarian system to confront questions of impartiality, aid worker safety, and how to meet the needs of women and girls, who make up the majority of refugees—all topics covered in this Q&A with Mr. Miliband.