“IHL connects people from all different facets of today’s world. Whether you are someone that has been protected by the laws or someone who advocates the awareness of the laws, every citizen of the world can play a part in the greater humanitarian effort that seeks to alleviate suffering during armed conflict.” – Francisca Chou, WUSTL Red Cross Club President.
The American Red Cross Club at Washington University – St. Louis was happy to present RED Week: Understanding the Refugee Experience through International Humanitarian Law – a week dedicated to introducing the campus community to IHL. Our club facilitated three events that addressed the wide scope of IHL. Additionally, our events highlighted the experience of refugees. The St. Louis region hosts one of the country’s largest Bosnian refugee communities.
On Monday of RED Week, students participated in a bubble wrap popping activity; each square of bubble wrap featured colored bubbles that signified the items a refugee would ideally take with them. A time limit placed on popping bubbles simulated the tense conditions that a refugee may be under as they try to escape to safety with needed possessions.
Wednesday featured a version of RAID CROSS. Students attacked targets and justified why they aimed or hit an unintentional target and how that relates to IHL.
On the last day of Red Week, we hosted a panel discussion. This created an open dialogue about IHL and how it affects the way we view refugees, prisoners of war, and asylum seekers. The stories the speakers shared were their own personal experiences as immigrants, asylum seekers, and prisoners of war really inspired many students to learn more about IHL and spread more awareness on the lives of people detained by situations of conflict.
“Through these experiences I have learned what IHL is. Before, it was a kind of ambiguous phrase but now I define it as a set of rules which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict, and seeks to protect ordinary civilians who are not participating in the conflict…I also learned about unintended casualties in war through discussing our ball toss activity. On my own I have also done research into IHL and found lots of information on it through the International Committee of the Red Cross.” -Kaylan Griffith, WUSTL Red Cross Club Member and IHL Committee Member