The tragic disappearing of humanitarian neutrality

UPDATES (latest 3/13 2:42 pm New York) -- please read to bottom of post From today's NYT:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Six Pakistani employees of the American Christian charity World Vision were killed Wednesday and seven others were wounded in an attack on the aid group’s offices in a remote village in northern Pakistan.

The Seattle Times on the same story:

When suspected extremists armed with assault rifles and a homemade bomb burst into a World Vision office in northwestern Pakistan this week, killing six employees of the Federal Way-based relief organization, it was the latest example of the escalating violence that aid groups increasingly face.

In the past 10 years, attacks have risen, with some 122 humanitarian workers killed around the globe in 2008 alone, according to InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations.

UPDATES: World Vision on its web site conveys the grief and horror:

No threatening letters were received prior to the attack. World Vision's relief and development work in Pakistan is conducted by local citizens, and local leaders have strongly condemned the attack. World Vision sees the attack not only as an attack on its own local staff, but on the Pakistani people themselves.

World Vision remembers those staff who have died as dedicated people seeking to improve the lives of people affected by poverty and disasters.

Since 1992, World Vision has primarily focused on relief interventions in Pakistan.... After the devastating October 2005 earthquake, World Vision expanded its operations in Pakistan.

And lastly, the Jim Wallis evangelical blog:

When was the last time you felt gripped by crushing fear? Like the kind that might take over as you listen to friends and co-workers being killed? This is what members of World Vision’s staff faced Wednesday in Mansehra, Pakistan, as their office was attacked.

Six people working to address the poverty and need of their own country. Six pairs of ears ringing from gunfire, six bodies torn apart by bullets, six families and neighborhoods left to grieve the loss of people they love. When it comes to death and violence, six is not a small number. Nor is one.

....So, what if the cost of less war, of progress and peace, is self-sacrificing courage? Today, humanitarian workers all over the world will choose this as they head to work. Is it a price more of us are willing to pay?

UPDATE 2 (3/13 2:42PM New York)

Change.Org Global Health today has a new thoughtful post on dangers to humanitarian workers. The timing makes it seem motivated by the World Vision attack, yet oddly enough it never mentions the World Vision attack.

When you decide to dedicate your life to humanitarian work in the field, remember this: Not everyone wants you to succeed. As an affiliate of the United Nations or a non-governmental organization, many people won't think of your work as simply providing security, distributing food or teaching children. Though most of the communities served are extraordinarily grateful for the humanitarian assistance they receive, there are plenty of individuals and groups who are not. Accordingly, humanitarians face the fear of kidnappings, hijackings and attacks every day.

Take the peacekeepers who were abducted by gunmen in Darfur just a few days ago.

It's often a mistake to read too much into a non-mention, but I'm wondering if Change.Org NOT mentioning World Vision reflects some of the controversy in the comments to this post whether World Vision is really neutral.

(@transitionland just suggested that the post might have been written before the World Vision attack because of delays in approving Change.Org blog posts)