International Committee of the Red Cross striving to meet unprecedented needs despite funding pressures
Geneva: The lives of ever more men, women and children are heavily dependent on humanitarian aid.
The first months of 2011 witnessed a quick succession of crises, such as those in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, that added to existing woes brought on by armed conflicts – some of them decades old – and other situations of violence. Against this backdrop and under the pressure of budget constraints, the Annual Report for 2010 of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was released today by ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger at a press conference in Geneva.
”The ICRC is appealing for urgent financial support,” said Mr Kellenberger. ”Funding for humanitarian action is under significant pressure. Several important donor States have been hit by the world economic crisis, and that is now having an effect on the financial resources available for humanitarian activities. These financial constraints represent an additional challenge to mounting a strong humanitarian response in countries at war.”
“Crucial measures had to be undertaken to enable our organization to respond swiftly to sudden emergencies such as the flare-up of the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire and the onset of a new one in Libya,” added the ICRC president. In both countries, the ICRC was one of the only organizations able to bring aid promptly to those in need thanks to its contacts with all the parties and its neutral and independent approach.
”We had to react quickly, set priorities, and review our operating and infrastructure costs both in the field and at headquarters,” explained Mr Kellenberger. ”This we had to do in the context of our current financial situation, which forced us to reduce our initial field budget for 2011 by 80 million Swiss francs – a reduction of 7.6 per cent from the originally budgeted amount of 1.046 billion francs. This was a painful exercise that involved cutting 40 million francs from assistance programmes providing health services, water and sanitation, and food security for people suffering the effects of protracted conflict.”
In reviewing the ICRC’s worldwide activities in 80 countries last year, Mr Kellenberger noted that the organization’s ability to rapidly deploy qualified staff and to provide appropriate services had enabled it to quickly scale up its response to deteriorating situations and fast-changing needs.
“Obtaining access to people who need our help remains difficult in a number of places,” said Mr Kellenberger. “Our capacity to respond to needs is based on our operational capacities and principled approach, our presence all over the world, our proximity to vulnerable communities, and our partnerships, in particular with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies on the ground.”
The ICRC president pointed out that the Haiti earthquake, floods of unprecedented scale in Pakistan, inter-ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan and a prolonged drought in northern Mali and Niger had contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of people urgently requiring help, in addition to millions of people across the world suffering the effects of unresolved armed conflicts.
In 2010, the ICRC’s expenditures jumped to an all-time high of over 1.1 billion Swiss francs (nearly 1.1 billion US dollars or 809 million euros according to a 2010 average rate of exchange). The ICRC’s biggest operation in budgetary terms was in Pakistan, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Israel and the occupied territories.
For further information, contact:
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
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