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South Africa: ICRC promotes compliance with law of warin regional peace-keeping exercise

25-09-2009 News Release 09/190

Pretoria (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only international humanitarian organization participating in the "Golfinho 2009" regional peace-keeping exercise taking place in Lohatlha, South Africa, from 1 to 26 September.


  ©ICRC/Kedir Awol/za-e-00033    
  An ICRC delegate discusses with members of the SADC civilian component and an Angola military observer during Exercise Golfhino.    
    About 8,500 soldiers, police personnel and civil servants from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are taking part in a simulated peace-keeping mission. At the SADC's invitation, the ICRC sent 12 experienced staff from its r egional delegations in Harare and Pretoria to simulate the humanitarian dimension of the exercise and make it as realistic as possible.

The SADC deployed a force in the fictitious " Republic of Lohatlha " to test its capacity to execute a multi-dimensional peace-keeping mission. The exercise thus offered the ICRC the chance to simulate activities, such as the promotion of international humanitarian law, it would undertake in a complex emergency of this kind.

The ICRC staff provided training in international humanitarian law – also known as the law of war – for soldiers from different SADC contingents and the three main armed opposition groups in their various bases, visited camps for displaced people to assess the humanitarian situation and provide assistance, checked on conditions of detention in prisons and monitored the treatment of civilians in the " conflict area. "

'' The exercise has been an excellent opportunity for those participating to become acquainted with the ICRC's mandate and to obtain an understanding of how the organization functions in real peace-keeping missions and other military operations, including in terms of how it monitors respect for the law of war,'' said Thomas Merkelbach, head of the ICRC regional delegation in Harare, who was in Lohatlha in connection with the exercise.

For further information, please contact:
  Christophe Deschard, ICRC Pretoria, tel: +27 82 339 5913
  Adebayo Olowo-Ake, ICRC Harare, tel: +263 4 790 268/9 or +263 912 240 960
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17