I have participated in international medical trips in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, and though I have never encountered any real danger – and I don’t count crossing an old, rackety bridge 200 feet above the ground, Indiana Jones style, as such – some of my colleagues can vouch for this:
The United Nations says that international aid work is one of the world’s most hazardous professions, in which humanitarian workers are constantly threatened with — or victims of — kidnappings, harassment, detention and deadly violence.
A U.N. study, currently before the 192-member General Assembly, points out that hundreds of aid workers and U.N. humanitarian personnel continue to face risks in some of the world’s major trouble spots, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Israel and Haiti.
“By any measure,” says U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “international aid work is a dangerous profession.”
By dangerous jobs I mean civilian jobs, not U.S. soldiers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a comparison of on-the-job death rates in the top 10 most hazardous civilian occupations would place aid workers at number five after loggers (92.4 per 100,000 workers), pilots (92.4), fishermen (86.4) and structural iron and steel workers (47.0). I would add “reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan” as well but I can’t find the statistics for that one yet.