"The speed and scale of the events of 2011, and the massive humanitarian needs that arose, set major challenges for an effective and timely response," said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Jakob Kellenberger as he unveiled the organization's Annual Report at a press conference in Geneva.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Attacks against medical personnel and facilities continued in many places, often resulting in a lack of safe access to health care, and proved to be an extremely serious, yet largely overlooked, humanitarian issue. ''The ICRC's efforts to provide medical and health care for the wounded and the sick - benefiting some 6.8 million people around the world, including in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Libya - were stepped up in 2011," said Mr Kellenberger.
"Our wide-ranging activities in conflict areas and close proximity to people who need help enabled the ICRC to respond effectively to several unfolding crises, including a number of unforeseen conflicts, throughout 2011," said the ICRC president. "In Syria, even now, together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are still the only international organization working on the ground in connection with the fighting," he added. In many contexts, the organization stepped in to provide vital aid. Just as importantly, however, it gave people the tools to fend for themselves, without outside help.
The ICRC's expenditures in 2011 amounted to more than 1 billion Swiss francs (approximately 1.2 billion US dollars, or 861 million euros). In Somalia, where food insecurity in conflict-affected areas worsened dramatically, the ICRC's initial budget for the country more than doubled as the situation deteriorated and needs soared, making it the largest operation in terms of expenditure, at more than 92 million Swiss francs (about 105 million US dollars, or 75 million euros). The ICRC's operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the occupied territories and Yemen - all protracted situations of violence - were also among its largest in 2011, along with those in Libya.
"It was imperative that we mount a flexible, rapid and relevant response in a range of complex situations over the year. When the crisis erupted in Libya, we had staff on the spot within days," said Mr Kellenberger. "In order to alleviate the suffering of men, women and children caught up in the fighting, it was essential to gain unhindered access to them and to engage with them," he added. In a number of places, partnerships with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies helped to broaden the activities the ICRC was able to undertake.
"Throughout 2011, the value of our impartial, neutral and independent approach was put to the test. However, I remain convinced that the principled approach we have adopted and the relevance of our humanitarian activities are still indispensable elements in ensuring access to people most in need" said Mr Kellenberger.
Key facts and figures
In 2011, the ICRC ran assistance programmes in 80 countries. The bulk of the work was carried out in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CÃ´te d'Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Thailand, Tunisia and Yemen. Overall, the ICRC distributed food to over 4.9 million people around the world during the year. Some 3.8 million people benefited from livelihood support through sustainable food production programmes or micro-economic initiatives. ICRC water, sanitation and construction activities helped some 22 million people, twice as many as in 2010, more than two thirds of whom were women or children.
Medical and other health-related services were provided for over 6.8 million people - more than ever before - with women and children constituting the vast majority of those benefiting.
The ICRC also visited more than 540,000 detainees in 2011, about 28,900 of whom were monitored individually, in 1,869 places of detention in 75 countries and 5 different international courts. The purpose of the visits is to ensure respect for the dignity of the detainees and to prevent torture or other ill-treatment or abuse. The aim is also to ensure that conditions of detention are decent and that detainees have the possibility of exchanging news with their families, as required by international humanitarian law.
The ICRC also helped restore contact between people separated by armed violence or disaster. It established the whereabouts of more than 7,000 people for whom tracing requests had been filed by relatives and reunited around 1,500 people with their families. It organized the repatriation or transfer of more than 6,000 people, including detainees after their release.
In 2011, the ICRC's operation in Somalia was its largest in terms of expenditure, followed by Afghanistan and Iraq.
The average number of ICRC staff in 2011 was 12,500.