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ICRC raising funds to address acute crises and long-term suffering

08-12-2011 News Release 11/256

Geneva (ICRC) – Sudden emergencies in the Middle East and North Africa that began during the first months of this year have resulted in the death, injury and suffering of tens of thousands of people.

''These unexpected and simultaneous humanitarian crises put the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the test and prompted it to deal with competing operational priorities,'' said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger in a press conference held in Geneva today, where he launched the organization's emergency appeals for 2012. The ICRC is asking donors for 1.15 billion Swiss francs to fund its worldwide activities next year.

The ICRC's 2012 budget includes the initial figures of 970 million Swiss francs for field operations and of 181 million francs for support provided by the organization's headquarters in Geneva. The total is close to the amount requested in the ICRC's record initial budget for 2011.

"In 2012, Afghanistan will be the ICRC's largest humanitarian operation in budgetary terms, with an expected expenditure of 89 million Swiss francs," said Mr Kellenberger. "This amount reflects the organization's strong commitment to press ahead with its efforts to help Afghans cope with their daily struggles." Obtaining health care remains a challenge for people in the areas hardest hit by conflict because of the fighting and the general lack of security, and because health posts and clinics are not fully functioning in some places, and some staff have fled or are simply too afraid to go to work. Other major ICRC operations include those in Somalia, with a budget of 70.2 million francs, in Iraq, with a planned expenditure of 67.3 million francs, and in Sudan, which is expected to cost 55 million francs.

''Looking back on 2011, flexibility proved to be essential in adjusting our planning and resources at the very time that events were occurring," said Mr Kellenberger. In Libya for instance, a multidisciplinary team was deployed to the eastern city of Benghazi just a few days after the violence erupted in February. A few weeks later, the ICRC set up a delegation in Tripoli. On both sides of the front line, it quickly set about performing its humanitarian tasks, such as visiting detainees, delivering medical supplies to hospitals, clearing away explosive remnants of war, and providing food and other items for those in need. "The fact that we had personnel on the spot was essential in facilitating dialogue with all parties to the conflict and in obtaining enhanced and more secure access to the people who most needed our help. This experience in Libya illustrated once again the importance of independent and neutral humanitarian action coupled with a rapid deployment capacity," explained Mr Kellenberger.

''Our ability to deal with the unexpected will remain central to successful crisis management and the swift delivery of humanitarian aid for men, women and children in need,'' said the ICRC president. ''At the same time, we are determined to promote the resilience and self-sufficiency of communities suffering the effects of protracted armed conflicts, such as those in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to protect the dignity of the people concerned in a way that cannot be achieved solely through food aid or other emergency relief," he added. For example, micro-economic initiatives taken by the ICRC in Iraq have enabled many households headed by women to improve their situation.

"Whenever we've had to take action to meet emergency needs stemming from new and deepening crises – such as those in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Côte d'Ivoire – our partnership with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has helped us to obtain access to remote areas and deliver aid in the most efficient way possible," said Mr Kellenberger.

1 Swiss franc currently equals approximately 1.08 US dollars, or 0.81 euros.

For further information, please contact:
Philippe Stoll, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 40 or +41 79 536 92 49 (English & French)
Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 24 (Spanish)
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 57 (Arabic)
Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 26