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ICRC launches fundraising appeals for 2001

07-12-2000 News Release 00/45

Geneva (ICRC) - In the past year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has carried out its humanitarian activities in a growing number of situations in pursuance of its mandate to protect and assist war victims and forestall the tragic effects of armed conflicts on all those protected by international humanitarian law. Most of the conflicts we are witnessing today give little reason to hope for an early settlement. On the contrary, they often drag on or have such complex ramifications that entire regions are engulfed in turmoil.

Having made these preliminary observations, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger presented the ICRC's objectives and budget for 2001 to representatives of the permanent missions in Geneva. " Bringing humanitarian action close to the victims and making a long-term commitment towards those who suffer the effects of armed conflicts remain at the heart of the ICRC's operational philosophy. This approach is complementary to the efforts undertaken by States and the international community to prevent and contain conflicts " , said the President, who went on to provide an overview of the ICRC's activities and priorities for the coming year.

 Brief survey of conflicts and other situations of violence  

The ICRC is currently working in almost 60 situations, including at least 25 active conflicts and a number of latent conflicts and focal points of tension and unrest. In these situations, the needs of civilian populations affected by armed violence, insecurity and structural disorder are constantly increasing.

 In Africa, the ICRC has seen no improvement in most of the countries where it is working. Indeed, the situation remains serious in Angola, with grave consequences for all of southern Africa. The same is true for West Africa, where the outlook is very bleak.. Other conflicts simply go on and on, such as those in Sudan and Somalia. Political, ethnic and religious rivalries are a constant threat to the precarious stability in Zimbabwe and Côte d'Ivoire. Finally, many peace agreements have gone unheeded: this is the case in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.  

 In Asia and the Pacific as well, some conflicts have intensified or spread, notably in South-east Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. Other conflicts seem to have no end in sight, such as those in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Tensions are on the rise in the Melanesian States and Laos, and peace and stability are still distant prospects in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. In Myanmar no political settlement was reached in 2000. And in Indonesia, especially in Aceh, violent incidents continue to claim many victims.  

    

 In Latin America, the situation in Colombia is becoming steadily worse and having adverse effects neighbouring countries.  

    

 In Europe there are still many conflict areas where clashes regularly break out and other situations in which peace is precarious. In the Caucasus, the outlook is dimmed by continuous fighting, particularly in Chechnya, and by its impact on neighbouring countries.  

    

 In the Near East, the recent events in Israel, the occupied territories and the autonomous territories give cause for grave concern. In the Middle East and North Africa, the effects of several conflicts continue to be felt, with the civilian population in Iraq enduring particular hardship. In  Iraq, Iran  and   Kuwait   thousands of families are still anxious for news of their relatives who disappeared or were captured during the hostilities. And no agreement has yet been reached to repatriate the 1,685 Moroccan prisoners held captive in the  Western Sahara   for more than 20 years.     

 ICRC action for victims of armed conflict  

The difficulties faced by people who have been displaced by conflicts remain a major concern both for States and for humanitarian organizations. In the past year, the ICRC and its partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have provided about 5 million displaced people with assistance aimed at supporting efforts to guarantee their security and livelihood. As the main player in this field, in 2001 the ICRC will continue to fulfil its mandate to help these particularly vulnerable populations. Mr Kellenberger expressed his hope that the dialogue and cooperation that have begun in this area would help to better meet the needs of people who have fled their homes and of those who have given them shelter.

One of the ICRC's priorities for the year 2001 is to take further concrete measures to help women affected by armed conflict. Various projects taking account of the specific needs of women in terms of protection and assistance, and also of the roles they play in their communities, will be launched in many situations where the ICRC is active. " I attach particular importance to the ICRC's efforts to assist women and young girls affected by war and violence " , said Mr Kellenberger, who also stressed that action to help children in conflict areas remained one of the ICRC's major concerns.

In 2001, the ICRC will consolidate its protection activities for people deprived of their freedom in connection with armed conflicts and situations of internal tension or strife. In 2000 ICRC delegates were able to visit for the first time places of detention in the Russian Federation, Equatorial Guinea, the Fiji Islands, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan and to continue their visits in Algeria and Myanmar. However, in other situations the ICRC was denied access to people deprived of their freedom, and this gives cause for concern.

Regarding efforts to restore family links and trace people reported missing in connection with armed conflicts, the ICRC intends to strengthen the leading role it plays thanks to its closeness to the victims, its contacts with political and military players and the expertise it has acquired in this area - an expertise shared with its partners in the Movement, which forms a valuable support network for families separated by conflicts.

With respect to war surgery and other medical activities, the ICRC, working closely with the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, will continue to assist the war wounded and to make its knowledge and means available in this field. It will also pursue its efforts to treat mine victims by providing them with artificial limbs and make the civilian po pulation more aware of the dangers posed by mines.

As in the past, the ICRC will also seek to ensure that those who suffer most from conflicts have access to basic means of subsistence and to provide them with a healthy environment that preserves their dignity, in particular by carrying out water and sanitation programmes.

Finally, the ICRC will pursue its efforts to develop means of ensuring respect for international humanitarian law, especially in situations of internal conflict. Among other things, it plans to promote norms adapted to current forms of conflict and modern-day weaponry. " Our priority in this area is to secure a commitment from State and non-State actors to better application of the existing rules " , said Mr Kellenberger.

Mr Kellenberger also drew attention to a number of means and measures that are crucial to the achievement of the ICRC's objectives.

In particular, he mentioned the need to constantly improve cooperation and coordination, both within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and among humanitarian organizations in general, so as to increase the effectiveness and appropriateness of the responses provided in situations of emergency.

While stressing the importance of increased consultations and of an open and frank dialogue with all those involved in conflict situations, Mr Kellenberger insisted on the ICRC's need for independence. " I see no contradiction between the desire to improve the coordination and complementarity of humanitarian operations and our determination to safeguard the independence of the ICRC " , he said. " Moreover, I am firmly convinced that we must start up and maintain a dialogue with the relevant political and military authorities regarding the humanitarian issues of concern to us, while at the same time remaining impartial and neutral. "

Mr Kellenberger also c onfirmed the ICRC's commitment to promoting the rapid adoption of a third Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions, which would introduce a supplementary emblem. The aim of this important project is to strengthen the universal character of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and enable those working under protective emblems to carry out their activities with the support of all the parties concerned.

Indeed, the security of victims and those who come to their assistance must remain one of the ICRC's primary concerns, and in an environment where risks are on the rise security presents a major challenge for the organization. The ICRC's first and foremost aim is to reach as many conflict victims as possible and remain by their side so as to provide an appropriate and rapid response to their most urgent needs. 

 ICRC fundraising appeal for 2001  

The budget drawn up for 2001 amounts to 994.9 million Swiss francs (844.7 million francs for operations throughout the world and 150.2 million francs for the support provided by ICRC headquarters in Geneva). With respect to operations, 346,9 million francs have been budgeted for Africa, 133,1 million francs for Asia and the Pacific, 52,1 million francs for Latin America and the Caribbean, 193,9 million francs for Europe and North America and 51,3 million francs for the Middle East and North Africa.

The total amount requested is 57 million francs lower than in 2000. The most significant reduction is for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The most substantial increases are for the Russian Federation (+ 12.8 million francs) and Sierra Leone (+16.7 million francs).

" The generous support provided by States for the ICRC's humanitarian activities around the world demonstrates their commitment to all those who suffer the effects of war and lack the most basic means of survival " , said MrKellenberger. " The ICRC is determined to make the best use the resources at its disposal to relieve the plight of these people and to ensure that international humanitarian law is respected and applied in all circumstances. "

A detailed list of the ICRC's operational objectives and budgets for 2001 is available in English at the following address: < http://www.icrc.org/eng >