PORT MORESBY (ICRC) – It is vital that Papua New Guinean soldiers have a solid understanding of international humanitarian law (IHL) before they are deployed as UN Peacekeepers, said Lt Col Edison Napyo, Commanding Officer of Taurama Barracks.
Lt Col Napyo was speaking as up to 700 soldiers from the PNGDF's First Royal Pacific Island Regiment (1RPIR) based at Taurama Barracks in Port Moresby received briefings in IHL from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
"The ICRC briefings are important because they help to improve the force's understanding of the international rules of war," said Lt Col Napyo. "Our soldiers need to be on par with soldiers from other countries with regard to this type of knowledge and we are grateful to the ICRC for supporting us in this area."
Five PNGDF companies currently undergoing physical fitness and other training are receiving the IHL briefings, given by ICRC Communication Delegate Dan Waites from 20-22 June. Some of the 700 infantrymen among them may be deployed to Sudan this year, and possibly other warzones.
The ICRC, which has a specific mandate to develop and promote IHL, conducts these briefings for peacekeeping forces in countries around the world. The briefings cover topics including persons protected in conflict, the role of the ICRC, and principles applying to the lawful conduct of hostilities, including distinction, proportionality and precaution.
"We're very glad to assist the PNGDF with training in IHL," said Mark Kessler, the ICRC's Head of Mission in Port Moresby. "It's a positive sign of their commitment to professionalism that they invite us to conduct these briefings each year."
PNGDF officers have previously been deployed as peacekeepers to Darfur and South Sudan, where the ICRC maintains one of its largest operations.
The ICRC has carried out pre-deployment briefings for PNGDF peacekeepers since 2011. This is the first time the ICRC has conducted awareness sessions for such a large number of soldiers in PNG.
For further information, please contact:
Dan Waites, ICRC Port Moresby, tel. +675 708 80 624