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UN unveils handbook for civil-military coordination in humanitarian crises

11 March 2008 –As the number and scale of humanitarian responses to both natural disasters and conflicts keeps rising, the United Nations and the European Commission today launched a new handbook to help humanitarian staff coordinate with military forces during emergency operations.

The UN Civil-Military Coordination Officer Field Handbook seeks to provide those working in the field with information to help carry out their tasks, given there are more situations in which the military and civilian relief providers are working in the same atmosphere, such as the transport of emergency food and medicine supplies to remote areas by heavy-lift military helicopters.

“Coordination between civilian and military actors is often essential during an emergency response,” said John Holmes, who serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and as Emergency Relief Coordinator.

He noted that the new guidelines will help aid workers ensure that this coordination is effective and is based on internationally recognized principles and guidelines.

These principles specify that the objectives and procedures of civilian groups and military forces in the context of humanitarian emergencies remain distinct. They also stipulate that any relief aid provided be neutral, impartial and based on identified needs.

The EC funded the workshop and preparatory work for the creation of the Handbook.

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