By Mary Taruvinga
THE International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) is conducting training for Zimbabwe’s armed forces and the police countrywide in preparation for deployment in other countries.
According to the ICRC, this is being done in a bid to maintain and enhance the global relief organisation’s relationship with the armed forces while focusing improving awareness on the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), also known as the law of war.
ICRC Zimbabwe political advisor, Hilton Zvidzai told NewZimbabwe.com on the sidelines of a workshop recently held in Gweru that their mandate is to ensure every officer gets to know about IHL.
“Basically, it is the mandate of the state and government to ensure that there is awareness on IHL in the defence forces. But also as ICRC, as the custodians of the law, we also have a mandate to assist the government in doing that.
“So our relationship with the government through ZDF is based on this understanding that we all have a common port of departure that we want on the integration of the IHL into the curriculum of the defence forces, in case Zimbabwe wants to deploy soldiers to other countries,” said Zvidzai.
He added:“This is something we do globally, we do it with armed forces in countries where there is conflict and where there is peace because the law is valid when there is conflict as well as peace. It is mandatory that armed forces across the world are supposed to know about the law.”
According to Zvidzai, the training is being carried out at ZDF schools across the country.
In efforts to reach out to every soldier, the SRC is conducting training of trainers from the army and air force, building the capacity of the forces to do it on their own.
The training has also spilled out to include training of police officers.
“This is being done in eight other countries, not because we carried out a research or something. We did a training with top brass of the police and have accepted it,” he said adding that their intention is to expand the programme.
The workshop was carried out by ICRC in partnership with Zimbabwe Red Cross Society in a bid to improve their relations with the media and also impart awareness on how to cover humanitarian issues.
ICRC is known first and foremost for its field operations in aid of victims of armed conflict and internal violence all over the world.
Less well-known is the scope of its role as “guardian” of IHL, the law applicable in situations of armed conflict.
Zimbabwean security personnel are often sent to other countries on peacekeeping missions.