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Strengthened mine action rapid response capacity

27-06-2007 News Release

The first ever ICRC mine action rapid response exercise was organised in Sweden 7-13 June.

The exercise was a first step towards implementation of the mine action rapid response agreements that were signed recently with the Swedish Rescue Services Agency’s (SRSA) and the Norwegian Red Cross.

" In many of today's conflicts, mines, cluster munitions and other problems related to weapon contamination cause significant humanitarian challenges " , says Ben Lark, head of the ICRC mine action sector in Geneva.

" Quick response in affected areas can reduce loss of lives and other problems caused by this contamination until more systematic clearance can take place. "

" The ICRC is therefore developing a pool of trained mine action personnel that can be deployed on short missions in emergency situations. The delegates will support the gathering of information related to incidents and dangerous areas, ensure necessary emergency awareness activities and facilitate clearance of areas of particular humanitarian urgency. "

Ten delegates from the Norwegian Red Cross and the SRSA were trained during a large mine action rapid response exercise in Sweden. During the exercise, the delegates learnt about the ICRC approach to mine action rapid response and subsequently participated in a larger exercise with the UN and other actors.

" An important part of the training is to look at challenges related to coordination and information-sharing between the various involved organisations in order to ensure efficient responses in the real emergency situations " , says Lark.