LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of aid workers killed, kidnapped or wounded fell to 272 in 2012 despite a record number of attacks on relief operations, a new report from the Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD) showed.
Worldwide there were 167 major incidents of violence against civilian aid operations in 2012, up from 151 in 2011, the report said.
Of the victims, 66 aid workers were killed, 115 wounded and 91 kidnapped in 2012, compared with 308 killed, wounded or abducted in the line of duty in 2011.
"Kidnapping remains the most prevalent, if less lethal, threat to aid workers in terms of numbers of victims affected," the report said.
It listed the five countries with the highest number of kidnappings in 2012 as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia. "It is difficult to capture complete numbers of kidnappings, since many go unreported, with releases negotiated in secret," the report noted.
Data suggests that countries with the most kidnappings tend also to have the highest level of overall violence against aid workers, it said.
One exception was Syria, where there were no reported kidnappings in 2012, although the country was one of the most violent for aid workers with large numbers caught in crossfire or targeted by all parties to the war, the report said.
It also highlighted the difficulty of working in South Sudan, which won independence in 2011, saying that attacks on aid workers have been made with impunity.
The AWSD, a project managed by research consultancy Humanitarian Outcomes, has tracked data on aid worker attacks since 1997. It is due to release its annual "Aid Worker Security Report" in October.