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Tanzania: Humanitarian work highlighted in peace-keeping exercise

14-02-2002 News Release 02/07

Representatives of the ICRC and the Tanzania Red Cross Society are taking part in the " Tanzanite " military peace-support exercise organized by France and Tanzania in coastal areas near Dar es Salaam and Tanga. " Tanzanite " brings together armed forces from 16 African countries and military observers from across the world.

Involving more than 2,000 troops, the exercise aims to improve coordination between various African armies and to enhance the ability of governments to cope with political and humanitarian crises. By participating in " Tanzanite " , the Red Cross hopes to facilitate the integration of humanitarian concerns into the conduct of military operations and to familiarize the armed forces with the ICRC's work around the world to protect and assist victims of conflict.

As part of the " Tanzanite " exercise, the Red Cross will present a range of humanitarian activities such as reunifying families separated by hostilities, relief distributions for internally displaced persons and visits to certain categories of detainees. It also plans to hold information sessions on international humanitarian law – specifically the Geneva Conventions – the body of rules designed to minimize the suffering of civilians and other people affected by armed conflict.

" We hope that exercises like this will help humanitarian organizations and armed forces develop a constructive relationship, " said Vincent Nicod, the ICRC delegate responsible for Kenya and Tanzania. " Both have to recognize the need for consultation in the event of armed conflict while respecting the differences in each other's mandates " .

The ICRC is currently engaged in a number of activities in Tanzania, most in close conjunction with the Tanzanian Red Cross. These include a family-message service for refugees in the west of the country and programmes to reunite separated refugee children with their families. The ICRC also supports efforts to furnish surgical care for wounded people fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, and it endeavours to spread knowledge of international humanitarian law among armed forces and police personnel.

The Tanzanian authorities and the ICRC recently signed an agreement that both recognizes the organization's special status under international law and facilitates administrative procedures related to its humanitarian work.