Millions of people around the world are suffering the effects of increasingly complex armed conflicts and other situations of violence, with little prospect of significant improvement in their daily lives. Against this backdrop, the ICRC is asking for 1.21 billion US dollars to cover its humanitarian activities in 2013. The ICRC's budget for next year includes the initial figures of 988.7 million Swiss francs for field operations and of 186.8 million francs for support provided by the organization's headquarters in Geneva.
"This budget will enable us to maintain a wide range of activities in response to a wide range of needs, while taking the difficult security environment into account," said ICRC President Peter Maurer, speaking at a press conference in Geneva on the occasion of the launch of the organization's emergency appeals.
"In 2013, the ICRC will deal with a very diverse set of situations and with a great variety of consequences for men, women and children who are wounded, sick, displaced, detained or separated from their families," said Mr Maurer. "The mix of acute and protracted conflicts will lead to an overall increase in the scope of the humanitarian activities we need to carry out, whether to alleviate immediate needs or to support people's longer-term resilience."
"The toll on civilians of the escalating conflict in Syria is of great concern, as are the renewed fighting and numerous abuses in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo," explained the ICRC president. "People in northern Mali are becoming increasingly vulnerable as a result of food shortages and the breakdown of basic services that have compounded the effects of the armed conflict. Prospects are bleak for the population of Afghanistan, which has faced danger and abuses for the past three decades. Fighting in Sudan and South Sudan, which has resulted in thousands having to flee their homes, shows no signs of abating. Forms of violence other than armed conflict, such as inter-community violence in parts of Asia and tribal clashes in several African nations, also appear set to cause enormous further suffering. In addition, the economic crisis could bring more instability to certain countries."
"While Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali may grab the headlines, we are also at work where suffering goes relatively unnoticed, as in the Philippines, Madagascar or the Central African Republic," said Mr Maurer.
Violence, abuses and disruption to health-care, water and electricity services all have a dramatic impact on civilians. ''Some of the most urgent situations that our staff have to deal with are those in which entire communities are denied basic services because fighting is restricting their freedom of movement, or those in which attacks on ambulances, medical staff, rescue workers and hospitals make it difficult or impossible to provide prompt and vital emergency care."
In 2013, the ICRC's largest operations in terms of expenditure will be in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Syria, Israel and the occupied territories, Sudan, Mali/Niger, and Yemen. Africa will once again account for over 40 per cent of the ICRC's operational commitments worldwide.
"Our budget fully reflects our objective of taking action and attending to needs in the most suitable and meaningful ways. We always aim to take account of people’s circumstances, the risks and dangers they are exposed to, their gender and their age. We also take into account the level of access available to the ICRC, the degree to which our organization is accepted and the nature of security risks confronting it," said Mr Maurer. "For the ICRC, 2012 was one of the most challenging years ever in terms of security. In 2013, striking the right balance between the risks undertaken and the scope of the humanitarian response will remain no easy task. In order to be successful in this endeavour, the ICRC will have to do everything possible to ensure that it is accepted as neutral, independent and impartial."
To carry out its activities, the ICRC relies on 12,000 staff in the field working in close partnership with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, but also, increasingly, in cooperation with other international or local organizations. In Nepal, for example, where the ICRC supports families of missing persons – many of which are headed by women – it is working in close cooperation with local organizations that provide economic assistance, legal advice, medical rehabilitation and community support.
"Now as ever, we are fully committed to doing everything we can to help people in need, wherever they may be," said President Maurer. "But it is important to remember that the lives of countless people who need protection and assistance ultimately depend on the continued support of our donors."