This article seeks to ascertain whether the use of private security companies (PSC) - who in recent armed conflicts have been hired by relief workers - automatically undermines the neutrality of a relief worker's actions and results in the revocation of their IHL mandate to provide humanitarian aid. I then asks what legal limitations are placed upon the activities of PSCs who are hired by relief workers, so that they do not through their direct participation in hostilities make themselves legitimate military targets, and by extension expose the relief workers to the risk of being injured as collateral damage. At the heart of the issue is the need to assess to what extent the neutral status of relief workers is or may be compromised by the presence of PSCs. In other words, might a legitimate relief worker's actions amount to direct participation in hostilities in circumstances where his or her organisation has engaged the services of a PSC ?
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