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Accessing fighters in hard-to-reach areas: New mobile application on the rules of war in Afghanistan

Can combatants target a school if the enemy is inside, ready to shoot? Can they enrol young people as fighters without being sure they are 18? Can they pretend to surrender, to attack the enemy by surprise? These are the types of questions that combatants, in armed groups or regular armed forces, might be faced with in conflict settings. Geneva Call in Afghanistan unveiled its new interactive “Conflict Has Rules Too” mobile application on the rules of war, providing the answers to such questions in a simple yet meticulous way. Hundreds of people have already downloaded the app, showcasing the breadth of impact it will have in the future.

With the recent announcement of the United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 2021 and the uncertainty it breeds over the future control of various territories, the need to increase knowledge of humanitarian norms is of the utmost importance. However, this remains a major challenge, as those most vulnerable are often the hardest to reach. Through this application, Geneva Call will try, at least partially, to overcome these difficulties by equipping users with the means to relate to and engage with humanitarian norms in an easily accessible manner. With this mobile application, Geneva Call expects to reach communities and fighters in areas that are not easily accessible to other humanitarian actors.

As H.E. Mr Andreas Von Brandt, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Afghanistan, highlighted during his speech at the app launch event in Kabul, “Humanitarian partners such as Geneva Call, are able to reach areas that development- and state-run services cannot access. This way they also engage with affected communities that are otherwise not reached by other actors, except for insurgents.”

Accompanying the mobile application with training sessions in person is still essential, particularly in hard-to-reach areas and targeting direct groups to ensure that messages are understood and incorporated in practice to protect civilians.



The “Conflict Has Rules Too” Mobile App, available in Pashto, Dari and English, is freely available on the Google Play Store. It can be downloaded, for now, only on Android compatible devices.

The App development and launch is supported by the European Union and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


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