ICRC launches largest-ever budget appeal to address growing humanitarian needs in conflict zones

Beijing (ICRC) – To address the spiking humanitarian needs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched its largest-ever yearly funding appeal for 2.3 billion Swiss francs (about 2.6 billion US dollars) to help people affected by armed conflicts and other situations of violence around the world in 2021. This year’s appeal is a 5.5 per cent higher than the budget for 2020 and almost double that of 2012.

  • Across the globe, about 1.8 billion people – 23% of the world's population, live in fragile contexts
  • 70 million people are displaced worldwide, including 20 million refugees, the largest number since World War II
  • Conflicts and other situations of violence continue to devastate communities around the world
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented humanitarian needs with its initial health impact and secondary socio-economic impact
  • In 2021, 239.1 million people – 1 in 33 worldwide, will need humanitarian assistance and protection

Notably, the increase in higher funding appeal for field operations reflects the increasing humanitarian needs linked to conflict and violence across the world. Many of these continue to be exacerbated by the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic in countries like South Sudan, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, protracted conflicts and new crises alike impose new challenges for the vulnerable populations in fragile contexts.

For example, the decade-long crisis in Syria has been brutal for civilians, with millions being pushed deeper into poverty by the worst economic conditions since the conflict began. The recent armed violence between federal and regional forces that broke out in Tigray, Ethiopia, in November 2020 caused a large-scale humanitarian emergency, causing over 60,000 Ethiopians to flee the country.

"Even as the COVID-19 pandemic brings daily life to a standstill in many parts of the world, armed conflict and other situations of violence continue imposing a heavy toll on vulnerable communities," said Mr. Jacques Pellet, Personal Envoy of the ICRC President for China and Head of the ICRC Regional Delegation for East Asia, at the press briefing held in Beijing on 17 March.

"Against these alarming humanitarian crises and increasing needs, a key challenge for humanitarian actors in 2021 and beyond is to maintain and acquire the funds necessary to meet the dual challenges of existing humanitarian needs and COVID-19 as well as post COVID-19 impact," added Mr. Pellet. Shanshan Z./ ICRC

Talking about the appeal, Mr. Pellet noted around 70% of the total budget is for ICRC's assistance programmes around the world, including programmes for economic security, water and habitat projects and health care. The assistance is expected to reach around 42 million people through 2021 and the funds will also be used to support more than 1,100 health facilities.

Geographically speaking, 42% of the budget will go towards meeting the humanitarian needs in Africa. Five of the ICRC's ten largest operations are in Africa, namely South Sudan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Libya.

Despite the significant challenges from growing humanitarian needs, a constrained operating environment and financial pressures, the ICRC remains operational in over 100 countries with over 20,000 staff.

"The ICRC continues to work in extremely complex and difficult circumstances, where the organization's neutral, impartial and independent approach enables it to work on all sides of a conflict and access some of the hardest-to-reach places to help people in need. Our programmes are varied and we always put the people affected at the center of our response," said Mr. Pellet. "Overcoming these new levels of fragility in times of global crisis is a collective responsibility, and we need a global response and solidarity across borders. That is why we are calling on States, the public, private organizations and humanitarians to stand together."

The ICRC's East Asia Regional Delegation in Beijing has been engaging with Chinese authorities, think tanks and other sectors to garner support.

"China is a major actor on the world stage. The ICRC assists those affected by conflict in various parts of the world – this reflects a commonality of interests that the ICRC and China can jointly work on. We look forward to China's increasing engagement with multilateral mechanisms, including funding mechanisms that reflect its key role in the world and its increasing influence on global affairs and global governance," Mr. Pellet noted.

About the ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance. It also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles. Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The ICRC is funded by contributions from States party to the Geneva Conventions, supranational organizations, international institutions, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and public and private sources. All funding is voluntary.

Notes to editors:

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ICRC Appeal 2021 Overview

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