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Awarded: NOK 51,999

Project Number:


Project Period:

2011 - 2012

The so-called Rif War was a harsh conflict that involved Morocco, Spain and France between 1921 and 1927. This conflict had a terrible human cost for all belligerents involved in it, especially for the northern Moroccan tribes of the Rif region. The estim ated total death toll amounted to several tens of thousands, plus many more wounded and diseased. The harshness of combats, the intense use of conventional and unconventional weapons (for example, chemical weapons), the apparent decalage between the Riffi an irregular forces and the French and Spanish regular armies also helped to foster international debates about humanitarian action and the limits of colonialism. That is why, from the very start, a number of national and international charities became in volved in the effort to provide medical care, drug supply or food relief to the war parties. The international impact of the Rif War went beyond those countries more directly involved in it to reach others without relevant strategic or economic interests in the area, especially after the Riffian offensive of the spring of 1925 and the subsequent counter-offensive of France and Spain. In Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) the impact was especially oriented towards the humanitarian aspects of the conflict, especially those regarding the weakest party: the Riffians. In this sense, the situation was a clear precedent for humanitarian debates and initiatives in later conflicts such as the Ethiopian War (1935-1936) and the Spanish Civil War (1936- 1939). More specifically, the project intends to clarify the following issues through archival and bibliographic research: 1) Public debates on humanitarianism in the Rif War in Norway and Sweden in 1925-1926. 2) The role of the Norwegian and the Swedish Red Crosses in relation to the Rif War in 1925-1926. 3) The diplomatic relations of the Norwegian and Swedish governments with those of France and Spain in 1925-1926.