Annual Report for 2012: Reaching millions in need
27-06-2013 News Release 13/115
Geneva (ICRC) – In 2012, from the Sahel to Afghanistan, from Syria to Colombia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) once again provided aid for millions of people in critical need. Many of the emergencies and protracted crises that it responded to continue to devastate lives in 2013.
"It is a humanitarian imperative for the ICRC to protect and assist the world's most vulnerable people, whether in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, or in the other complex, diverse and dangerous environments where we work," said Peter Maurer, the president of the ICRC, as he presented the organization’s Annual Report at a press conference in Geneva. "The ICRC's neutral, impartial and independent approach to humanitarian work is essential to ensuring our activities are widely accepted, which in turn enables us to reach and help those most in need."
This approach helped the ICRC reach places in 2012 that had not previously been accessible, for example in Syria where aid was brought to victims of the fighting both in government- and opposition-held areas. The escalating armed conflict in the country caused unprecedented suffering and generated needs that aid organizations were often unable to respond to because of the fighting. The region clearly remains a focus of humanitarian efforts in 2013. Elsewhere, the unforeseen crisis gripping Mali disrupted basic services and forced many to flee their homes. People especially in the north of country remain vulnerable to massive food shortages amid ongoing fighting. In Myanmar, the inter-communal violence that erupted in 2012 has uprooted thousands. In South Sudan, where the ICRC stepped up its activities in 2012, violence in the north has reduced people's already limited access to health care. The ICRC remains on the ground in these and other countries where it provides wide-ranging assistance in response to growing needs.
"Humanitarian crises like the one unfolding in Syria often trigger a search for political solutions, when in fact overall we see few of these: rather, we find a tendency for conflicts to last longer, grinding down the civilian population year after year," said Mr Maurer. "Meanwhile, it is getting harder to find funding for our humanitarian activities in the world's forgotten tragedies, such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Somalia. The worldwide economic crisis has had an understandable impact, but we cannot afford to ignore our common responsibility towards people suffering the effects of such chronic emergencies."
The deteriorating security situation in many parts of the world created significant challenges for the ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. According to Mr Maurer, "2012 was the most difficult year for the ICRC in security terms since 2003 and 2005. An ICRC delegate was abducted and murdered in Pakistan, another staff member was killed in Yemen, and serious security incidents occurred in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere."
"For National Societies, things were no better. In Syria, for example, there were a number of members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent who lost their lives last year," he said. "These incidents and others prompted the ICRC and its partners to review security arrangements. In some countries, adjustments had to be made in key activities."
The ICRC maintained major operations in numerous armed conflicts receiving relatively little media attention, such as those in Yemen and South Sudan. It also pressed ahead with efforts to address important issues such as sexual violence that often went under-reported. "Rape was a recurrent nightmare for many people – mainly women, but also men – in areas affected by conflict or other violence. It usually occurred in conjunction with other traumatic events, such as looting, destruction of property or murder," said Mr Maurer. Victims of sexual violence struggled to obtain treatment that addresses both the physical consequences and the psychological trauma.
The ICRC sought to raise awareness of the need to improve security for the delivery of impartial and efficient health care in armed-conflict and other emergency situations. In many countries, the lack of security and the proliferation of checkpoints cut off certain areas from medical care and caused delays, which reduced chances of survival when people had to be rushed to treatment facilities for life-saving care. "We even came across cases of hospitals being attacked, occupied or looted," said Mr Maurer. By promoting a special project on the dangers facing health-care services in armed conflict and other emergencies, the ICRC and its partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, together with the health-care community, stepped up efforts to find ways to strengthen protection for health-care providers, medical infrastructure and patients.
The ICRC's expenditures in 2012 amounted to more than 1 billion Swiss francs (slightly more than 1.1 billion US dollars, or 875 million euros). Afghanistan was the site of the largest operation in terms of expenditure, at more than 86 million francs (about 92.4 million dollars, or 71.6 million euros), and activities in Syria were budgeted at 38.6 million francs (more than 41 million dollars, or 31.5 million euros). The ICRC's operations in Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Israel and the occupied territories, Sudan, South Sudan and Colombia – all protracted situations of violence – and the organization's response to crises resulting from the "Arab Spring" and the deteriorating situation in the Sahel were also among the largest and most complex in 2012.
Key facts and figures
In 2012, the ICRC ran assistance programmes in 80 countries. The bulk of the work was carried out in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. During the year, ICRC activities that contributed to household economic security were carried out in 63 countries, often together with host National Societies. More than 6.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees, residents and detainees received food aid and nearly 2.8 million received essential household and hygiene items. ICRC water, sanitation and construction activities helped some 22 million people in 53 countries, more than a third of whom were women or children.
Medical and other health-related services were provided for over 7.1 million people – more than ever before – in 292 hospitals and 391 other health-care facilities around the world. Community health programmes were in operation in 23 countries, in many cases with National Society participation.
The ICRC also visited more than 540,000 detainees in 2012, including detainees under the jurisdiction of international courts and tribunals, in 1,744 places of detention in 97 contexts. About 26,600 of the detainees were monitored individually and more than 13,500 were visited and registered for the first time. The purpose of the visits is to ensure respect for the dignity of the detainees, to prevent torture or other ill-treatment or abuse, to ensure that conditions of detention are decent, and to give detainees the opportunity to exchange news with their families, as required by international humanitarian law.
The ICRC also helped restore contact between people separated by armed violence or disaster. It collected and distributed approximately 140,000 Red Cross messages and facilitated approximately 210,000 phone calls between family members. The ICRC also made 16,800 phone calls to families to inform them of the whereabouts of a detained relative visited by its delegates.
It established the whereabouts of more than 6,500 people for whom tracing requests had been filed by relatives and reunited around 2,200 people with their families. It organized the repatriation or transfer of more than 1,220 people, including detainees after their release.
In 2012, the ICRC's operation in Afghanistan was its largest in terms of expenditure, followed by the operations in Iraq and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The average number of ICRC staff in 2012 was 12,500.
For further information, please contact:
Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 244 64 70
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
Sébastien Carliez, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 28 81 or +41 79 536 92 37