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Mastering disaster relief

As the number of conflicts around the world grows, more trained disaster relief experts are needed. A cooperative programme between a Finnish and Welsh university aims to help meet this need. This week students from around the world practised their skills at a replica refugee camp in central Finland.

Pakolaisleirilharjoituksessa kannetaan miestä paareilla
Image: Ville Välimäki / Yle

If it seems as though the amount of international disasters is growing, that's because it's true.

"Statistics indicate that the number of catastrophes is constantly increasing. As such, there's a need for educated humanitarian relief workers," says Hanna Oommen, a lecturer in the Disaster Relief Healthcare programme at the Häme University of Applied Sciences.

The master's degree is a joint programme with the University of South Wales, and the only one of its kind in the world.

This week, in Evo, Lammi, where the Häme school is located, students are practising their skills at a reconstructed refugee camp in the Finnish wilderness.

Currently there are 50 students enrolled in the three-year programme. In addition to Finns, there are Canadian, British, Zimbabwean and German students.

An important skill is cross-cultural intelligence, that is, understanding other cultures.

"When you go to another country, you need to understand the local customs and way of life in order to be able to help," says Oommen.

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