100,000 children and adults receive safety training from Norwegian People’s Aid
Educating children and adults in preparation for war and conflict. “Unfortunately, this training is very necessary. We hope it will save lives,” explains Henriette Westhrin, Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid.
Since 2016, a total of 100,000 people in Syria, Iraq and Palestine have received training in Conflict Preparedness and Protection (CPP). The programme has been developed by Norwegian People’s Aid and is being implemented in partnership with local organisations and enterprises, including schools. The programme focuses on how to protect yourself against explosive weapons and how to prevent injuries and suffering in war situations. To date, most of the participants in the programme have been children.
“Of course, the best thing would be for children not to have to grow up in areas ridden by war and conflict. But that’s not the way it is. Unfortunately, this training is necessary. We hope it will give people more chance of surviving attacks involving explosive weapons and in turn save lives,” Westhrin continues.
Just as with fire drills, these exercises are designed to teach people what they can do to help ensure their own safety, for example through evacuation, basic fire-safety and first-aid routines.
“Civilians should never be the target in conflicts; however, conflicts are becoming increasingly urbanised and civilians are the main casualties when bombs explode in built-up areas,” says Westhrin.
The Conflict Preparedness and Protection programme has been developed based on surveys of risk and public awareness of these matters in Syria and Palestine. Norwegian People’s Aid has prepared educational materials and trains local organisations and teachers as "safety instructors". The course reflects local conditions and uses games and theatre to get its message across. So far, it has only been developed in Arabic.
“Many lives can be saved by strengthening basic emergency preparedness and we intend to do even more in this area moving forward. We have received positive feedback from teachers, children and adults, who all appreciate the value of the training,” confirms Westhrin.
Up to now, the programme has mainly been rolled out in collaboration with schools, but it can be adapted to different needs and can also be held in workplaces, for teams and associations or in any other context where people come together.
Norwegian People’s Aid has been committed to humanitarian disarmament and protecting civilians against explosive weapons for more than 25 years and has prioritised protecting life and health since its inception in 1939. In Norway, NPA has a long tradition of organising voluntary first-aid responders who work with the rescue services across the country.