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Ethiopia: ICRC president in talks with Ethiopian authorities and African Union leaders

13-12-2013 News Release

Addis Ababa (ICRC) – Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), today completed a visit to Addis Ababa during which he had talks with Ethiopian leaders and senior officials of the African Union (AU). This is his second visit to Ethiopia and the African Union since taking office in July 2012.

Mr Maurer met the newly elected president of Ethiopia, Mulatu Teshome, who is also the patron of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, before discussing with the Ethiopian Red Cross leadership ways to enhance humanitarian activities and strengthen partnership between their two organizations.

On December 13, president Maurer addressed the 15 Members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and had discussions with the AU commissioner for political and humanitarian affairs. He also met with the group of non-African ambassadors accredited to the African Union and with officials of the UN Office to the AU.

“It’s a challenge,” said Mr. Maurer, “to strike a balance between the ICRC’s neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action and the sustainable development agenda, which is crucial for the African Union. We need political support from the Peace and Security Council to ensure that the ICRC is able to carry out impartial and independent humanitarian action on the continent."

The ICRC president also asked the Council to firmly condemn attacks on humanitarian workers and to apply international law. It should also, he added, have a detention policy wherever African Union peace-support operations were undertaken.

In recent years, the scope of cooperation between the ICRC and the Union has considerably expanded. The ICRC is making its expertise available in a range of areas of interest to both organizations, including access to health care and protection for health workers and facilities, sexual violence, protection and assistance of internally  displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and migrants, peace-support operations, contamination by unexploded ordnance and abandoned weapons, the anti-personnel mine-ban convention and the arms-trade treaty.

The ICRC’s 2014 budget for humanitarian operations in Africa represents a major part – over 43% – of its total budget for operations throughout the world. Of its 15 biggest operations provided for in 2014, seven are in African countries (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Mali, Sudan, Central African Republic and Libya). The ICRC has 30 delegations and other offices throughout Africa and has been working in Ethiopia since 1977.

For further information, please contact:
Desalegn Tadesse and Zewdu Ayalew, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel: +251 116 47 83 20