Roundtable on Challenges for Medical and Health Care Personnel in Case of Disasters at the occasion of the 16th National IHL Conference of the Italian Red Cross

In the framework of the 16thNational Conference on international humanitarian law of the Italian Red Cross held in Benevento on 15-17 November 2019 and devoted to the new Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions, DILAW4E staff and other speakers managed a final roundtable (on 17thNovember) addressing the challenges for medical and health care personnel in case of disasters. The roundtable benefitted from the participation of around 100 IHL trainers of the Italian Red Cross convened in Benevento by all Italian Regions to attend the national conference, several of them having also acquired the qualification as trainers in international disaster law.

The half-day roundtable was chaired by Milena Cisilino, focal point for disaster law of the Italian Red Cross and member of the steering committee of the DILAW4E, emphasising the relevance of fostering the dialogue among practitioners, humanitarian actors and academics as to better address challenges posed by disasters to medical and health care personnel. Speakers included Prof. Giulio Bartolini, academic coordinator of DILAW4E, who addressed recent global legal initiatives in this area. Particular attention was devoted to the new WHO initiatives, namely the Emergency Medical Team aimed to introduce quality and certification standard for foreign medical teams involved in disaster relief operations. Tommaso Natoli, DILAW4E staff, focused his presentation on debates on such issues to be held at the 33rdInternational Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent, particularly its planned Resolution 2 addressing Mental health and psychosocial needs of people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies. Dr. Flavia Zorzi Giustiniani, Uninettuno University, analysed recent EU legal and operational activities, including the 2019 reform of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and its relevance for health relief personnel, both regarding the consolidation of the European Medical Corps, aimed to provide a rapid European response to emergencies with health consequences both inside and outside Europe, and the launch of RescEupermitting the possibility to establish European reserve capacities also in areas relevant for medical activities, as its planned use for medical evacuation plans. Finally, Ms. Marzia Como, focal point of the Italian Red Cross on the project ‘Health Care in Danger’, reiterated concerns for the safety of medical and health personnel in such scenarios extending her attention to armed conflict contexts, also in order to provide some highlights of novelties introduced in the new Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions on the protection of such personnel.