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Do Foreign Aid Projects Attract Transnational Terrorism?

Authors
  • Boutton, Andrew1
  • Pascoe, Henry2
  • 1 University of Central Florida, USA , (United States)
  • 2 School of Global and Public Affairs, Spain , (Spain)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Nov 17, 2018
Volume
24
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/peps-2018-0027
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Governments and NGOs establish aid projects in order to improve the quality of life for local residents around the world. While recent news stories about aid workers being kidnapped or killed by terrorist groups are alarming, they mask a broader question: Are aid projects effective in promoting humanitarian aims and pacifying the areas to which it is sent? Or, conversely, does their presence actually attract more violence? Although humanitarian assistance is ostensibly non-political, aid projects themselves may make popular targets for terrorist groups. In addition to increasing resources available to plunder, aid provides an appealing foreign target, allowing terrorist groups to reach wider audiences with their attacks and to reinforce the narrative that the government lacks capacity to protect and provide for civilians. In this paper we combine subnational, project-level aid data with newly-assembled subnational data on transnational terrorism to explore terrorist targeting of aid locations. After presenting our matched-sample analysis of terrorist targeting of aid, we outline avenues for future inquiry using high-resolution, subnational data to investigate the strategic vulnerabilities of foreign aid projects.

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