More than a dozen high school students spent a Saturday afternoon learning about International Humanitarian Law during an interactive American Red Cross training called Raid Cross at the Red Cross in Summit.
Raid Cross is a role-playing simulation activity designed by the French and Belgian Red Cross to teach young people about the basic rules of International Humanitarian Law, the importance of these rules, and the various humanitarian issues involved in conflict situations.
“As part of the Geneva Convention, the United States has an obligation to teach International Humanitarian Law to its armed forces and to the civilian population,” says Suzanne Anderson, International Services instructor, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “In turn, as a part of our mission, the American Red Cross helps to educate the American public. The Raid Cross program helps youth develop knowledge of and respect for International Humanitarian Law as well as the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.”
During Raid Cross, participants are sent to the fictional country of Haddar. Haddar has been attacked by the neighboring country of Deldar, and the resulting armed conflict between the two nations has been going on for 13 months. The participants take on the roles of civilians, soldiers, prisoners and humanitarian workers in order to deal with different challenges that arise during the simulation.
As part of the interactive training, students are led through five simulations, each one followed by a debriefing and discussion on the Geneva Conventions and the rules of war. The simulations help students understand situations that often occur during times of conflict or war. As they take on various roles, they learn about the significance of International Humanitarian Law.
In the first simulation, students take the role of prisoners at the fictional Gula Prison Camp where a prison guard takes their documentation and brings them to hear the stories of two fellow Haddarian prisoners as well as a civilian prisoner. An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegate explains the rights granted under the Geneva Conventions and how the ICRC assists in assuring those rights are upheld.
Students then assumed the role of battlefield medics faced with mass injuries and casualties following a conflict between Haddarian and Deldarian forces. Student worked together to assess the injuries and triage the transport of the injured and deceased.
Stepping into the role of a humanitarian aid worker students were tasked with delivering medical supplies to a village. To mimic the challenges humanitarian aid workers encounter, students had to utilize critical thinking skills and creative problem solving to successfully navigate an obstacle course and pass a border guard to deliver the supplies to the village.
Acting as military decision makers, students were presented with potential targets including opposing military forces and vehicles, a nuclear power plant, water supply, humanitarian aid vehicles and farms. Students discussed which were protected under International Humanitarian Law and which were appropriate military targets. Each student was given a ball to try to hit one of the identified targets while avoiding the others. Once each student had participated they reviewed all the targets hit and the collateral damage that occurred in the process and discussed how their decisions impacted the village.
Finally, students resumed their role as humanitarian aid workers for a mock International Criminal Court trial where they charged the border guard and prison guard they met in prior simulations with multiple counts of rights violations under International Humanitarian Law. Students crafted a case and presented it before the judge.
"Raid Cross was an unforgettable event,” said student Shreeya Sawant. “Being thrust into the role play without preparation truly simulated the real experience of war as a soldier, humanitarian aid worker, and prisoner of war. It was a great learning experience and I recommend it to anyone with a curiosity to find out what happens after someone puts on a uniform: whether it be a soldier's or a humanitarian aid worker's."
For more information about Raid Cross, visit redcross.org/rulesofwar/raid-cross.