Increasing numbers uprooted by conflict
24-05-2007 Press Briefing
Launching the ICRC's Annual Report for 2006, the organization's President, Jakob Kellenberger, has spoken of the increasing number of people uprooted by conflict and violence. As a consequence, he said the ICRC'S expenditure in 2007 may even surpass last year's record.
At the press conference in Geneva to launch the Annual Report, Mr Kellenberger said the ICRC had already had to launch appeals for extra f unding in 2007 for 4 countries – Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and Chad. This, he continued, was largely due to its increasing activities on behalf of those displaced by conflict, including the provision of emergency food supplies, essential non-food items, water and medical assistance.
Citing the example of Somalia, the President said the ICRC had already completed the distribution of shelter material and essential non-food items to 300,000 people forced to flee Mogadishu by intense fighting in March and April 2007. In addition, the distribution of food supplies to around 210,000 people has almost been completed.
The President underlined the ICRC's approach of providing support not only to those uprooted by conflict but also to the resident communities stretched by having to host them. In contexts such as Darfur, he said, this policy was helped by the acceptance of the ICRC as a neutral and independent humanitarian actor.
Mr Kellenberger said the increasing number of internally displaced people was a sad characteristic of today's conflicts.
" It is quite clear that if international humanitarian law were better respected there would be less displacement " .
Sri Lanka and Iraq
During the press conference, Mr Kellenberger also spoke about the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka where growing numbers are being forced to leave their homes as the country's conflict intensifies.
The numbers of displaced people now totals around 300,000 with around half of them in the region of Batticaloa.
Mr Kellengerger indicated that the ICRC's operations in Sri Lanka on behalf of victims of violence may require extra funding on top of that originally planned for 2007.
In response to a question about Iraq, the President recalled the ICRC's recent appeal for a supplementary sum of 35 million Swiss francs to cover operations in the current year to supply food and non-food items, repair water installations and support health and medical facilities.
He also said the ICRC continued to visit over 17,000 detainees in the hands of coalition forces and Kurdish regional authorities. In addition, negotiations continue about starting visits to those held by the Iraqi authorities.
During the press briefing, President Kellenberger also spoke of the current situation in Nahr al-Bared, the Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
" We are extremely concerned about the recent escalation of violence. We have made clear to all those involved in the violence that they must respect IHL, in particular civilians and the medical mission. "
He paid tribute to the work carried out by the Palestine Red Crescent and the Lebanese Red Cross in treating and evacuating the injured and said the ICRC would continue to offer material support to both Societies.
The ICRC has already delivered 20 tons of emergency supplies to Beddawi camp where thousands of civilians have fled to escape the fighting. In addition, a convoy of 11 trucks carrying 220 tons of food was on its way to Tripoli from Amman in Jordan as the press conference was underway.