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ICRC emergency appeal for 1996: 570 million Swiss francs

07-02-1996 News Release 96/6

Geneva (ICRC) - Despite the cash-flow problems announced a few months ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) closed its 1995 accounts with a deficit of no more than 8 million Swiss francs for its field operations. Its field budget for 1996 amounts to 570 million Swiss francs.

The ICRC launched a renewed financial appeal in September 1995. To cover the expected deficit (estimated at 150 million Swiss francs at that point), top-level representatives also travelled to various capitals to raise additional funds. Several governments made a special contribution, while others became major donors for the first time. By the end of 1995, these combined efforts had helped to put the institution's finances back on a more even keel.

The ICRC nonetheless remained concerned about its financing for the years to come and had taken steps to improve fundraising in a wider circle of donors, including governments, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other sources, said the head of its External Resources Department, Christian Kornevall, at a press conference in Geneva on 7 February.

The funding needed to meet the ICRC's operational commitments in 1996 was similar to last year's: Africa remained the largest theatre of operations, requiring 276 million Swiss francs, followed by Asia (88 million) and Central Europe (73 million). Director of Operations Jean de Courten pointed out that these figures were not an accurate reflection of the actual volume of work carried out in a given region. Indeed, the activities conducted in behalf of detainees and to protect conflict victims, in Latin America and the Middle East for example, did not necessari ly appear on financial statements. Assistance (28% of expenditure), activities for detainees and the restoration of family ties (27.6%), together with several medical programmes (16%), were the priority items on the field budget for 1996. 

For the ICRC, the early weeks of the current year had been marked by activities to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina, the organization's vital work in Rwanda's prisons and the airlift set up to help the civilian population of the Afghan capital Kabul. All this showed once again that the international community must be able to count on an international organization such as the ICRC. Jean de Courten stressed the need to ensure that the victims of all conflicts received assistance and that due account be taken of the ICRC's role as a neutral intermediary.