Presenting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 2007 report, the President Jakob Kellenberger has disclosed that their total expenditure of 944 million Swiss francs with 45% of field expenditure last year going to Africa and 21% to the Middle East.
The ICRC carried out water, sanitation and construction projects which benefited more than 14 million people, and it provided regular support for health-care facilities that treated nearly 2.9 million patients last year.
The organization also gathered and delivered almost 500,000 Red Cross messages and visited more than half a million detainees in 77 countries.
It also raised concerns over the recent increase in food and fuel prices as it is making life even harder for poor people already struggling to cope with the effects of war and internal violence.
President Kellenberger said in the report that, “millions of people already suffering because of armed conflicts are likely to be particularly hard hit by the current increase in food prices, the ICRC warned as this is especially the case in countries such as Chad, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Haiti.”
Mr Kellenberger added that despite the price increases, the ICRC intended to maintain its planned volume of relief distributions, supplies of drinking water and level of medical aid in the 52 countries where it assisted the civilian population.
In 2007, it assisted more than four million internally displaced people – around half a million more than in 2006 – especially in places not covered by other organizations on security grounds. The beneficiaries included newly displaced people, in Somalia and Colombia for example, and people returning to their homes after having been displaced, such as in Uganda and Sri Lanka.
The ICRC also acted to prevent displacement. In Sudan’s Darfur region, for example, the support furnished by it enabled vulnerable rural communities to remain at home rather than joining the ranks of people fleeing to camps.
President Kellenberger expressed concerns that in many armed conflicts, civilians were being specifically targeted, with effects that devastated the lives of millions of men, women and children.
Mr Kellenberger said, “this report draws attention to the countless violations of international humanitarian law that we witnessed throughout the world last year and it documents the ICRC’s efforts to put a stop to those violations,” he said. “Greater respect for the law would mean fewer civilians being killed or wounded, fewer women and girls being raped, and fewer people forced to leave their homes.”
Also the ICRC has raised concerns about the displacement of mmillions of people throughout Africa and other countries owing to armed conflict or other violence.