WAIMEA, Big Island of Hawai'i -- Plans to recruit volunteer-actors for an unprecedented week-long multi-national humanitarian and military exercise here on Parker Ranch this June will be the main focus of Waimea Community Association's next Town Meeting, Thursday, May 4, 2000. Meetings run 5:30 - 7:30 pm in Kahilu Town Hall and are open to everyone.

The project, called Strong Angel, will be June 11-15, 2000. The idea is to create for the first time ever, a mock refugee camp similar to those set up by the United Nations in the Sudan, Bosnia, Turkey and elsewhere.

Why: To rehearse refugee camp management and care. Dr. Eric Rasmussen, the U.S. Navy doctor who is coordinating the exercise, will conduct the Waimea Town Meeting along with Peter Young, who in addition to being president of the Waimea Community Association, is also Disaster Services Chair for the West Hawai'i Branch of the American Red Cross. Young's American Red Cross branch is responsible for recruiting 125 volunteer-actors.

Dr. Rasmussen will explain how the U.S. Navy, working with Australia, Japan and other Pacific Rim countries, a range of United Nations agencies, the World Food Programme and others, will operate the camp.

He will explain what will be required of volunteers -- mainly, he says, "a tolerance for roughing it and a yen for adventure." However, refugee actors must also be -- or become -- Red Cross volunteers.

"If someone wants to participate but is not already a Red Cross volunteer, we will provide free introductory training, add them to our volunteer roster and provide additional free training while they are at the camp," said Young.

Typically West Hawai'i Branch Red Cross volunteers are called upon to assist with immediate disaster relief. This covers a wide array of emergencies -- from single family house fires to coastal evacuations due to tsunami alerts or high waves. They also assist with sheltering and feeding individuals evacuated from their homes due to large scale storms, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., said Young.

Some Red Cross activities require very basic training. Some require considerable expertise and experience such as emergency communications and supervisory coordination. Red Cross volunteers are on-call 24-hours a day year-round, said Young.

Volunteers for Strong Angel's mock refugee camp must also be between the ages of 18 and 70 -- both men and women. Of special interest are individuals fluent in a foreign language, particularly Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Spanish or Arabic. Amateur actors also are of special interest, Young said.

Other volunteer refugee requirements include being able to devote up to 5-days to the project. A full 5-day commitment is not essential and volunteer refugees may check in and out during the course of the week.

Strong Angel refugee application forms are available on-line at http://www.kamuela.com/StrongAngel or by contacting Peter Young at StrongAngel@Kamuela.com or 885-4200 (e-mail preferred.)


In addition to defense, the military is often called upon for humanitarian assistance following natural disasters, regional wars, famine or epidemics.

These situations create huge numbers of people who need to be relocated,sheltered, fed and provided with medical care and compassionate support.

Organizers of Strong Angel realized that past efforts to deliver aid in cases of disaster had only been an emergency reaction. There has never been a chance to practice the management of refugee camps and the new technology being developed for them.

"We all hope to learn the capabilities the US military can offer before they are needed. We have not always cooperated with each other to the extent we'd find most valuable. We'll take this chance to practice 'plays well with others' instead of 'runs with scissors,'" Dr. Rasmussen said.


The refugee camp will be established just outside of Waimea on Parker Ranch land at Pu'u Pa'a, the large cinder cone makai of the Waimea-Kohala Airport.

There will be two facilities, the refugee camp itself and a Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC).

There will be approximately 30 five-person tents (enough to accommodate the 125 refugee actors) within the camp, with a few larger tents for various support functions including meals, showers, recreation, administration and storage. The CMOC section will contain more storage, communication links, staff housing and visitor center.

"Refugee volunteers will not be paid in any sense, but basic necessities will be provided --- 3-meals a day, cots, sleeping bags, shared tents, showers and portable toilets. It will be an austere environment and people will need to be physically capable, flexible and patient," said Dr. Rasmussen.

All refugees volunteers will be screened prior to participating, people may not be able to participate for a number of reasons, said Young.

"This is a significant opportunity for us in West Hawaii to participate in this international humanitarian response exercise. It is excellent training for us to better prepare to respond to disasters as they occur here," Young said.

If you are interested or want more information visit http://www.kamuela.com/StrongAngel or contact Peter Young at 885-4200 or e-mail him at: StrongAngel@Kamuela.com (e-mail preferred.) For other information, please send your inquiry to strongangel1@hotmail.com.

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RIMPAC 2000 forces

US Military: Navy Third Fleet (C3F)

USMC Combat Service Support Group-3 (CSSG-3)

Transportation Command (TRANSCOM)

Air National Guard


Naval Postgraduate School

UN Agencies:

Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) - now in EastTimor

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) -currently operating in 40countries

The World Food Programme (WFP) - currently operating in 80 countries

UNICEF - currently operating in 130 countries

Foreign military:



Civilian 'refugee' actors who are American Red Cross Volunteers

What (Exercise Assumption):

During a period of escalating tensions between two island nations, the United Nations requests a Coalition Task Force to serve as a calming presence in the waters off the most affected of the islands. On that island are two countries, Green (the good guys) and Orange (not the good guys). Ethnically Green citizens of Orange are subjected to persecution and flee across the border into Green. The influx worries Green, which requests assistance in the management of the refugees. The UN Secretariat agrees, and a civil-military operation is initiated that has UN agencies establishing a refugee camp in Green. Those agencies (UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, guided by the Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA)) are to be supported in any fashion they deem desirable by elements of the Coalition military. Essentially, the camp will be a military effort, overseen by the UN agencies.