ENGINEERING RELIEF charity RedR will next week debate controversial plans to provide training services to a wider range of humanitarian workers, including staff from military and commercially backed aid agencies.
The move reflects the changing environment in which relief agency engineers are now forced to work, but could be seen as a significant step away from the charity's original aims of remaining independent of the military and commercial firms.
'We are now providing services much closer to where the action is, ' explained RedR head of corporate services Neil Casey.
'This necessarily means we may be working with humanitarian actors that we haven't traditionally worked with.'
The subject is expected to prompt passionate discussion among members at next week's annual general meeting.
When formed in 1980, RedR was simply a register of engineers keen to work with aid agencies in disaster zones. However, since then it has grown with a market leading reputation for providing some of the best and most appropriate training for relief workers, particularly in security awareness and how to work in dangerous or hostile areas.
RedR has just won a three year, multi-million pound contract backed by the Department for International Development to supply security training services to humanitarian relief agencies. The first phase will see the programme delivered in Afghanistan.
Its own assessment of the needs of aid agencies plus a recent external evaluation of its training courses highlighted the growing role of new actors such as commercial organisations and the military, who are now engaged in humanitarian work. RedR believes that provided their work is humanitarian, these workers have the right to be properly prepared.
RedR members and anyone interested in its work are invited to discuss the shift in policy at RedR's annual general meeting on Thursday 25 November at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London from 3pm. The event will take place in the presence of RedR president HRH the Princess Royal and will hear presentations on a range of RedR activities.
For tickets please contact neil@redr. org