31 mai 2013 EUTM Mali
James Cahill est le responsable UN-OCHA (bureau pour la coordination humanitaire) au Mali. Il a également pris en charge la coordination de la formation Droit International Humanitaire (DIH) pour EUTM Mali jusqu’à l’arrivée d’Alison Hayes, le mercredi 08 mai 2013. Alison est britannique et instructeur, au sein d’EUTM, pour le DIH et elle a depuis pris la responsabilité de la coordination des cours et de leur mise en pratique sur le terrain.
Avant de quitter le Mali, James a accepté de répondre à trois questions sur la formation des soldats maliens du bataillon Waraba aux problématiques DIH. Bien que parlant couramment français et faisant ses cours dans la langue de Molière, James, irlandais de nationalité, a préféré par un souci de clarté répondre à nos questions en anglais.
1/ – James, pouvez-vous nous expliquer comment vous avez organisé la formation des soldats du bataillon Waraba ? Quelle est l’idée directrice qui vous a guidé dans le choix des thèmes des cours ?
The training program evolved from a working group of humanitarian actors interested in participating, we were approached with an opportunity to lend assistance. Having been given some guidance from the EUTM training section on key issues they wanted covered, primarily protection issues for vulnerable people, namely women, children and displaced persons, the working group then decided what the key issues within these topics were, specific to Mali.
As additional time became available, the working group decided to cover some topics that the humanitarian community felt were pertinent, and from this, we decided to include IHL for armed conflict, IHL specifically for the management of detainees and a session on everything concerning the interaction with humanitarian workers on the ground.
Given the numbers required to be trained, and the limited time available (due to a very tight schedule), it was decided to adopt the approach of simply concentrating on key messages, but ensuring proper delivery. To accomplish this, lessons were very visual and the interaction with the audience was maximized as much as possible with translations in two of the local dialects as much as possible.
2/ – Après 5 semaines de cours, pouvez-vous nous donner vos impressions sur les soldats maliens : leurs connaissances au début de la formation, leur intérêt pour les cours, leur investissement et le niveau qu’ils ont atteint ?
Over the course of the 5 weeks I have definitely noticed a change in the comportment of the troops. From a trainers point of view, where initially there was a sense of distance between ‘us’ and ‘them’, over the weeks, as we got to know one another this attitude has changed considerably, and now there is a much more informal atmosphere during the sessions.
Interest levels were always high despite difficult conditions, from what I believe was a universal desire to re-establish the reputation of the Malian Army. It was also very clear from the questions asked and information given that they had a reasonably good level of appreciation to human rights issues and IHL in some areas, but learned a lot on the importance of distance between security forces and humanitarian workers on the ground.
At the beginning of all lessons, the emphasis on the why the instruction was in their own interest and the interest of the army to achieve their mission and creating this link was also paramount for generating interest.
3/ – Cette formation vous semble-t-elle intéressante, utile dans le programme de la mission EUTM Mali ?
In my opinion this training is critical for the EUTM training program for the benefit of the protection of vulnerable people and to facilitate the humanitarian community at doing their work in co-existence with the armed forces of Mali.
If the Malian soldier does not have an idea of the humanitarian needs of the people he must protect his role will not be fulfilled, despite how proficient he is in military skills.
The levels of interest shown over the past number of weeks would indicate to me that they are well aware of this, and in a lot of cases are far more aware of some of the key humanitarian issues.
From the start we had a clear objective that we were not there to train humanitarians, but rather develop a humanitarian awareness in the troops. I am very confident this has been achieved.