Caught in the Crossfire: Providing Education during Conflict
The American Red Cross and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies invite you to join us for an expert presentation and panel on ensuring the existence of a safe space for education during conflict.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 from 9-11AM
Free Admission & Breakfast
Keynote Address by Mr. Dean Brooks, Director, INEE
American Red Cross National Headquarters
1730 E St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
Can’t make it in person?
Watch the event live-stream in HD at bit.do/caughtinthecrossfire.
In the news:
This week, the U.S. attracted criticism by Iraq’s defense minister for providing an April to May timeframe for Iraq military forces to retake Mosul. ISIS continues to conduct large-scale kidnappings in both Iraq and Syria. Approximately 120 men were reportedly kidnapped near the city of Tikrit, Iraq – thirty were later released. ISIS also abducted at least 220 Assyrian Christians in Syria in an apparent response to recent Kurdish gains in the northeast.
More positive developments have occurred regarding the Ukraine ceasefire, as Ukrainian troops and rebels exchanged prisoners of war this week. But don’t be expecting peace immediately – some suggest that the wave of terrorist attacks and bombing during a street march in the city of Kharkiv may indicate that the pro-Russian separatists have chosen the city as their new target. Meanwhile, Obama has been weighing new sanctions to hold Russia accountable for the recent “land grab” in Debaltseve following the ceasefire agreement.
Announcement from Emily Kenney, Youth Education Program Officer:
In the coming months, over 400 high school and college students from 15 different American Red Cross Regional Chapters across the country will design campaigns to teach their peers about IHL, as well as issues relating to gender and refugees. They will be sharing their experiences on the blog. Sign up for blog updates to follow the stories of IHL Action Campaign teams promoting humanitarian values and principles in their communities. Email IHLYouth@redcross.org to learn how you can get involved.
Raid Cross participants – St. Louis Region
At the end of last year, the American Red Cross – St. Louis Region conducted its Raid Cross event with college students from Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis Community College – Meramec. The facilitators were Francis Abari, Nermana Huskic, Michael Pfeifer, Marie Rantz, and Shima Rostami.
The first day was devoted to general education about International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the IHL Action Campaign, and simulations on topics such as prisoners of war, humanitarian aid, wounded, artillery, military headquarters and trials.
The prisoners of war (POW) simulation took on an added level of realism because one of the facilitators, Francis Abari, had been a POW and a “secret prisoner” in Africa. The students paid rapt attention as he described his disappearance and his eventual release. The POW simulation was modified to include a “secret prisoner”. Some of the other “prisoners” were not aware that one of them had “disappeared” until the ICRC representative in the simulation tried to account for all prisoners. In addition, “prisoners” had their passports confiscated and were issued POW identifications. In the debriefing that followed the event, students expressed how they felt the effects, even during this brief dehumanization.
The artillery simulation had one team accidentally shell a nuclear power plant, while the other team elected to bombard the town sheltering enemy soldiers in the military headquarters simulation. Both teams were prosecuted during the trial simulation for their crimes. As in the real world, students mounted creative and passionate defenses for their actions. The violations brought prison sentences for both teams. Continue reading
Pro-Russian separatists appear to finally be taking the Ukraine ceasefire agreement seriously. This morning marks the first 24 hours without Ukrainian combat fatalities in weeks. Yesterday the Pro-Russian separatists stated that they are willing to comply with the ceasefire and brought reporters in to observe their withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine as required by the ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire was set to begin on February 15, but both Ukraine and the separatists continually failed to comply with its terms. Both sides blame each other for instigating the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine.
In the news
ISIS continues to wreak havoc in the Middle East as the Tripoli Province of Islamic State, a Libyan group that pledged allegiance to ISIS last year, released a video showing the mass execution of twenty one Egyptian Coptic Christians. The attack was the first outside ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. Egypt quickly responded by bombing Islamic targets in Libya and calling on the U.S. and Europe to join an international coalition to combat ISIS in Libya. In a sign of growing strain between the two longtime allies, the U.S. refused to back Egypt’s military operation against Libya. Italy, on the other hand, given its strong historical ties with Libya, has stated that it would be integrally involved in any peacekeeping operation in Libya. This map is a useful overview of the current Libyan situation.
In the news
This past week saw yet another ISIS hostage situation come to a tragic end, as the U.S. confirmed the death of 26-year-old humanitarian, Kayla Mueller. ISIS claimed that she was killed by Jordanian airstrikes, but Jordanian officials denounced the allegation as just “another PR stunt” to “throw a wedge in the coalition” to fight ISIS. Although details of Mueller’s death are still unknown, a Pentagon official stated that there is no doubt ISIS killed her. Continue reading
Yesterday the International Humanitarian Law Team had the pleasure of hosting a brown bag luncheon with Ron Capps, Founder and Director of the Veterans Writing Project, author of the acclaimed memoir Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars In 10 Years, and blogger for Time Magazine’s “Battleland.”
U.S. diplomatic monitor Ron Capps talks with refugees in the Kisna Reka refugee camp some 25 km (15 miles) from Pristina, Kosovo, Yugoslavia Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1998. (AP Photo/Santiago Lyon)
Ron read excerpts from an essay in his memoir, “Yellow”, and shared his experiences applying the Geneva Conventions and IHL in his roles as both an Army officer and a diplomat in Kosovo, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur. He discussed some of the challenges soldiers and observers face in armed conflict, including his own struggle with PTSD and his suicide attempt. Ron found writing about his experiences to be a beneficial way to confront many of the effects of PTSD and encourages other veterans to do so as well through the Veterans Writing Project.