Wednesday, May 27, 2009

International Red Cross annual report shows increased needs throughout the world

Living amidst a war is unimaginably difficult, but the International Red Cross says that many people living in wars also suffer from natural disasters and high food prices, while the combat is around them.

The International Red Cross released their annual report today. The report says that in 2008 the Red Cross gave out double the amount of food of 2007. Also, the number of refugees that they have helped has increased by six percent.

From the International Red Cross press release that we found at Reuters Alert Net, the Red Cross president makes his point about the effects of war.

Presenting the ICRC's annual report for 2008, the organization's president, Jakob Kellenberger, said: "Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan are three examples of countries where natural disasters and high food prices have made life even harder for poor people already struggling to cope with the effects of war." The report shows that ICRC spending hit an all-time high in 2008, rising to over 1 billion Swiss francs.

Africa accounted for 47% of field expenditure, while 20% went to the Middle East.

The increase in expenditure is due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in many countries, such as Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan, but it also reflects improved ICRC access to people affected by wars.

"2008 clearly showed that the ICRC's neutral and independent humanitarian action does bring significant benefits for victims of armed conflicts," said Mr Kellenberger.

"It allows the ICRC to have access to and help people in places others often can't reach.

Notable examples include Iraq, the Sahel region, Somalia and Georgia." The ICRC president deplored the fact that in 2008 untold numbers of civilians continued to suffer either because they were deliberately targeted or because conflict parties failed to distinguish sufficiently between civilians and civilian objects on the one hand, and combatants and military objectives on the other: "Much of this suffering could have been avoided if conflict parties had improved their compliance with international humanitarian law." Looking ahead, the ICRC president said it was hard to predict the exact impact of the global economic crisis on people already made vulnerable by war.

However, he expressed concern that the increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty, rising unemployment worldwide and a significant drop in remittances from migrant workers to their families in conflict areas could have a particularly severe effect on the poorest victims of armed conflicts.

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