Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

UNHCR training simulations

Among the UN agencies using simulations for training purposes is UNHCR. One of my former graduate students (who went on to work for UNHCR) mentioned it when she was back in Montreal recently, and passed on the following article on their use (more at the link):


WEM participants undergo longer simulation exercise during training

By Jennifer Pagonis
In Schwabische Alb, Germany

UNHCR News Stories, 25 September 2006

SCHWABISCHE ALB, Germany, September 25 (UNHCR) UNHCR has extended the simulation section of its training for emergency response teams, placing participants under more pressure but also providing a greater sense of the reality they will face when deployed.

“We have recently increased the simulation period to two-and-a-half days from one day,” said UNHCR emergency team trainer Andrei Kazakov, referring to the Workshop for Emergency Management, or WEM. “It’s tougher on the participants because there’s no let up in the pressure as they move from one difficult situation to another and they have to get more involved and learn to perform as a team.”

The sense of reality for WEMERS, as course participants are known, was increased as the latest simulation exercise was held on an army shooting range in southern Germany’s Schwäbische Alb region. With tank and mortars firing rounds nearby, there could be no mistakes in map reading.

WEMERS had to confront aggressive military forces determined to turn away refugees; plan and manage a camp; provide first aid; survive serious security incidents and learn to deal with the media. Negotiation skills, radio communication procedures, four-wheel driving on rough terrain and using the global positioning system are an integral part of the training.

There are three WEMs a year – held in Sweden, Norway and Germany – training around 40 participants each time over nine days. The course in Germany is funded by the government and foreign affairs ministry and is run in close cooperation with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief – the Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk (THW).

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