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Colombia: ICRC president to reaffirm humanitarian aid during official visit

08-02-2013 News Release 13/15

Geneva/Bogota (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, will arrive in Colombia on Sunday 10 February for a four-day visit. This will be his first visit to Latin America since he took up his duties as president in July last year.

Mr Maurer will meet with the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, the vice-president, Angelino Garzón, the minister of foreign affairs, María Ángela Holguín, the minister of defence, Juan Carlos Pinzón, the minister of justice, Ruth Correa Palacio, and the high commissioner for peace, Sergio Jaramillo, to discuss various humanitarian issues. President Maurer will also meet members of the diplomatic and humanitarian community in Bogota.

"The humanitarian consequences of the protracted conflict and other situations of armed violence in Colombia are of particular concern to us," said Mr Maurer. "Over the past few years, our staff on the ground have been providing aid for vulnerable communities in remote areas and urban contexts, where the conflict is still acute and where people are feeling the full impact of the violence, living in conditions of great hardship and struggling to obtain such basic necessities as health care."

"It is therefore essential that we reaffirm the strong working relationship we have with the Colombian government and with all the other parties to the conflict, a relationship derived from the role we play as a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization," declared Mr Maurer. Colombia is the site of the ICRC's largest humanitarian operation in the Americas.

During his visit, President Maurer will also take the opportunity to go to the Putumayo region to assess first-hand the humanitarian work being carried out there. "I am very interested in seeing for myself how the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross have developed strong local partnerships over the years to help the people most in need," he said.

The ICRC president will also meet with Francisco Cárdenas, the president of the Colombian Red Cross, the ICRC's main partner organization in the country.

The ICRC has been working in Colombia since 1969. It has 13 offices across the country with more than 360 staff. The budget for its activities in the country in 2013 comes to 33 million Swiss francs (approximately 36 million US dollars).

For further information, please contact:
Maria Cristina Rivera, ICRC Bogota, tel: +57 311 491 0775
Patricia Rey, ICRC Bogota, tel: +57 311 491 0789
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 218 76 10
Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 26