ICRC says, “Humanitarian work has never been as difficult as now” in Afghanistan

March 18, 2009

… and it’s likely to get more difficult in the future, but not just in Afghanistan.

IRIN reports on an ICRC comment that humanitarian work has never been more difficult.  Although the warning is specific to Afghanistan, we suggest it may foreshadow similar warnings in the future.  The ICRC said:

[The warning was[ echoed by the head of the ICRC in Afghanistan, Reto Stocker: “Humanitarian work has never been as difficult as now… 2009 will be a very difficult year for Afghanistan and its people,” he said on 17 March. This is the first time that the UN and the ICRC have made such a bleak forecast – one that is highly relevant for the aid community.

In a statement which could apply to many regions, and increasingly so in the future, the warning concluded “We are already dealing with a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” said Stocker, adding that more hostilities, inaccessibility and drought could produce further suffering for vulnerable communities.”

“Dirty War Index” tool published

December 23, 2008

A new analytical tool which could be very useful for estimating the true cost of political violence.

Researchers from King’s College London and University College London have published a methodology in last week’s PLoS Medicine, which they are calling the “Dirty War Index”. The tool is intended to help identify the rate of “dirty” war outcomes for conflicts, including torture, child injury, and civilian deaths.

This relates to the forecasting work HFP recently completed for Oxfam UK estimating the numbers of climate change and conflict affected people’s worldwide in 2015. One of the key problems in that project was estimating total deaths and numbers affected by political violence, as most conflict databases only report official combatant deaths. Leaving aside the thorny issue of undercounting and political manipulation of these numbers, there are very few ways of estimating the total number of people affected by violent conflict. For our project with Oxfam UK, we used a ratio of combatant mortality to internally displaced peoples (IDP’s) and refugees to estimate the total numbers affected. Combining this with the “Dirty War Index” would have been a very useful step and will likely be incorporated in future drafts of that work.

The paper can be downloaded for free here.

“A Force More Powerful” serious gaming to teach non-violent strategies

December 19, 2008

This is another fantastic example of combining contemporary gaming technology with humanitarian, training, and learning expertise on crucial issues.

A group of filmmakers and nonviolence activists at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) have created a serious game simulation which teaches players nonviolent resistance strategies under oppressive regimes. A Force More Powerful: The Game of Non-Violent Strategy”

From the website:

Can a computer game help people learn how to defeat dictators, military occupiers, and corrupt rulers–not with laser rays and AK47s–but with a non-military strategy and nonviolent weapons?

Featuring ten scenarios inspired by history, A Force More Powerful simulates nonviolent struggles to win freedom and secure human rights against dictators, occupiers, colonizers, and corrupt regimes, as well as campaigns for political and human rights for minorities and women. The game models real-world experience, allowing players to devise strategies, apply tactics and see the results.