War in Norway: Scenario-based analysis of humanitarian needs

FFI-Report 2024
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Stig Rune Sellevåg Tord Apalvik Sigrid Dahl
Imagine a war in Norway. What humanitarian needs may arise? How can the civilian population best be protected? These are questions that the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) has analysed on behalf of the Norwegian Red Cross through a scenario-based structured discussion with relevant defence and emergency preparedness actors. Our study has identified several important factors for how the civilian population can best be protected. Maintaining critical societal functions and self-preparedness will be crucial. Societal resilience forms the basis for our ability to meet humanitarian needs and protect the civilian pop-ulation in times of crisis and war. The police and the health service will be under considerable pressure in war, and maintaining hospitals will be challenging. Credible and coordinated information will be important to reassure the population. The infor-mation must be clear, fact-based and as honest as possible. It will be necessary to create a public understanding of the need to make priorities. However, transparency about priorities must not come at the expense of military forces’ need for operational secrecy. There will also be a need for measures to counteract the effects of misinformation and disinformation. Leadership and demonstrated ability to act politically and militarily can provide motivation and hope. The authorities must be able to communicate with the population in the event of a loss of elec-tronic communication. The authorities need to prepare and make available alternative communi-cation solutions, as well as to have plans that enable cooperation and coordination during loss of electronic communication services. Roles, responsibilities, authority and cooperative relations must be clarified in advance of crises to ensure well-functioning civil-military cooperation. Important factors in achieving this are com-mon planning prerequisites, synchronised plans and civil-military exercises to create trust and build relationships between agencies and emergency response actors. The civil protection measures must be credible responses to the actual threats. The measures must enable care of all vulnerable groups, in particular those who are unable to fend for them-selves. Evacuation plans will be necessary, and uncontrolled self-evacuation must be avoided, especially in areas where military operations are taking place or are planned. Under the threat of war, a dilemma may arise between the nation’s interest in holding territory versus the civilian population’s need for protection. Evacuation ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ will both have consequences for the civilian population. It will be necessary to decide whether to accept having a civilian pop-ulation within occupied territory. If so, the potential consequences for the civil defence, for first responders and for the Norwegian and allied armed forces must be assessed. Tough priorities are needed in war, and it is important to create acceptance for this. At the same time, there is a power in helping each other that must be exploited through voluntary efforts. There is a need for knowledge about important factors that enable resilient societies and a resilient population during times of war.

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