ICRC Annual Report 2002: Fight against terrorism adds to complexity of armed conflict
19-06-2003 News Release 03/43
Geneva (ICRC) – The increase in acts of deliberate terror against civilians and the struggle against their perpetrators have added a new dimension to the ever more complex nature of armed conflict. This is one of the issues taken up in the 2002 Annual Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In presenting the report, ICRC Director of Operations Pierre Krähenbühl said that events in 2002 had confirmed the growing tendency of armed conflict around the world to feature ethnic, religious and criminal struggles for power and control over resources. In the face of this increasing complexity, full respect by all parties for the rules of international humanitarian law protecting civilians – especially women and children – and detainees in armed conflict was more important than ever.
Mr Krähenbühl emphasized that independent action and proximity to those in need through the ongoing presence of the ICRC on the ground were the cornerstones of the organization's approach. In Iraq and Liberia, this had once again proven its worth by enabling the ICRC to protect civilians and save lives. The ICRC's recent call for additional funds to extend its operations in both countries, as well as in Côte d'Ivoire and the Palestinian territories, was all the more worthy of response as the organization had proven its effectiveness during many years of involvement in those areas.
ICRC activities in 2002 were once again dominated by Africa, which faced a cycle of armed conflict resulting in growing poverty, plundered resources, stalled development, inequality and health crises. Stressing that the international community should find ways of breaking that cycle, Mr Krähenbühl said that further security guarantees were needed for aid agencies working in Africa and elsewhere. The safety of conflict victims and humanitarian staff was essential if protection and assistance programmes were to proceed unhindered.
Despite the scale of the needs and the security problems encountered in cer tain operations, the ICRC was generally encouraged by the degree of access it had to conflict victims in 2002, which enabled it to visit 448,000 detainees in 75 countries and provide aid to millions of people.
Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 79 217 32 16