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Working for the ICRC: a wide range of profiles and missions


ICRC policy on human resources, and information useful for future employees

In the service of humanitarian action


In the service of humanitarian action 

Ref. CD-E-00064 

In order to discharge the humanitarian mission conferred on it by the international community, the ICRC needs to be able to count on a first-rate staff: its activities are carried out by over 12,000 staff members working in one of 80 delegations and missions worldwide..

That impressive human resource figure makes the ICRC one of the biggest emergency humanitarian organizations working in areas of armed conflict and violence today. ICRC staff members have widely varying responsibilities and tasks, depending on their function and the context in which they work. They strive to provide protection and assistance to the victims of conflicts: the wounded, prisoners, the families of missing persons, displaced persons, threatened civilian populations, etc.

 ICRC personnel in 2009  


 12,184 staff members in more than 80 countries
Expatriates: 1,453 people
Men: 56% ; Women: 44%  
Over 100
different nationalities
Delegation employees: 9,908 people
staff at headquarters in Geneva

A demanding job


A demanding job 

ICRC personnel perform a difficult and demanding job. They must endeavour to act efficiently and professionally, in contexts in which violence and suffering are rife: countries stricken by war and the devastation it leaves in its wake, post-conflict situations in which society is still nursing the scars of the fighting.

ICRC staff members work in sensitive, tense and sometimes dangerous situations, and in a wide range of settings, from government offices to the rudimentary facilities of camps for displaced persons. They move without pause from distributions of food rations to high-level negotiations with the military authorities. They are in constant contact with people of all kinds: the powerful and the powerless, the victims and their aggressors, diplomats and humanitarian volunteers.

The job requires human qualities that at first glance appear contradictory: ICRC staff must be tenacious yet flexible, creative but methodical, at one and the same time curious and discreet, sensitive but able to control their emotions. The job allows them to make a profound personnel commitment. It affords a unique human experience, enabling staff to make a direct contribution to humanitarian action by exercising a profession that is based on knowledge and experience and is constantly being reshaped by events.

 In the field  

In the field, staff work from a delegation , which is the ICRC's office and its operational arm in the country. The delegation's significance and size vary from one context to another, depending on the scope of the conflict and the activities it conducts.

Each delegation has a head of delegation, who coordinates all activities and contacts in the country. The head of delegation stays in touch with ICRC headquarters and with the ICRC's other offices in the country (the sub delegations). Day-to-day operations and any problems encountered are discussed and dealt with in the delegation, in close liaison with Geneva.


 At headquarters  

The role of headquarters is to provide support for activities in the field and expertise in a variety of areas. Headquarters obtains the political support required for ICRC action from international players.

Several hundred people work at headquarters. They are, with few exceptions, experienced staff who are familiar with conflict situations and the ICRCÕs activities. They have been on at least three to five field missions and have already shouldered major responsibilities or have specific skills.