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Sweden: Nordic Peace 2002

09-08-2002 News Release 02/32

Many aid workers and military troops are present in war-torn Bogaland. The ongoing conflict between Kasuri in the north and Mida in the south threatens to divide the country in two. Although the civilian population is undergoing great hardship, humanitarian action is being hampered. Riots, kidnapping and looting are part of everyday life.

This is one of the scenarios being presented to over 3,000 people from seven countries and 13 governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the ICRC and the Swedish Red Cross, during the civil-military exercise " Nordic Peace 2002 " .

The aim of the exercise, which is taking place from 29 July to 9 August near Stockholm, is to enhance the ability of aid agencies and the military to deal with the problems they face during conflicts and disasters. These include major accidents such as the one involving the ferry Estonia in 1994, which required cross-border rescue operations. In particular, the exercise raises many questions about who is doing what in the field and why – especially when it comes to military involvement in the humanitarian domain.

" The ICRC has an important role to play in such civil-military exercises, " said ICRC training officer Esko Rautianinen. " By learning about how we work and why, the military get a better grasp of what to expect in the field. This reduces the chances of a misunderstanding. "

During the exercise, the ICRC has staged the repatriation of detainees by air, road and sea, and conducted visits to fictitious prisoner-of-war camps. It has taken this opportunity to spread knowledge of international humanitarian law among soldiers.

" Everything has gone really well, " said Esko Rautianinen who began planning the exercise in January. " And the ICRC's presence has reminded commanders of their duty to teach humanitarian law to soldiers. "