May 28, 2009

Red Cross Announces Record Annual Expenditure

Wars, unstable economies and Mother Nature have mixed together in a recipe yielding the global turmoil that has led to International Red Cross's announcement of its record high annual expenditure as reported by AFP. 

The humanitarian organization, based in Geneva, released its annual report stating that it spent a little over $1 billion last year.  The organization employs nearly 11,000 people worldwide.

The majority of the funds went to Sudan with 71.8 million euros ($99.7 million USD) and Somalia with 67 million euros ($93 million USD).  Iraq with 62.5 million euros ($86.7 million USD) and Afghanistan 46 million euros ($63.8 million USD) followed close behind.  Israel and the Palestinian territories received 40.8 million ($56.7 million USD) euros and the Congo, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Chad and Pakistan each received between 16.4 and 33 million euros ($22.7 million and $45.8 million USD).

"Millions of people affected by armed conflict have become more vulnerable because of the combined effects of war, natural disasters and continued high food prices," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 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," said Jakob Kellenberger, ICRC president.

The report attributed the increase "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."

The report indicated that over 121,000 tons of food was distributed to 2.79 million people across the globe last year.  This figure more than doubles the 2007 number.

The ICRC said its water, sanitation and construction projects improved the lives of over 15 million people.  Health facilities supported by the organization treated almost 3.5 million patients.  Last year aid workers visited nearly 500,000 detainees in 83 countries.

Kellenberger said a sizable portion of the suffering in war zones and the corresponding civilian casualties "could have been avoided if conflict parties had improved their compliance with international humanitarian law."  He also warned that the world's most vulnerable people would experience the impact of the global economic crisis in a severe manner.  He cited the polarization of economies, increased unemployment on a global scale and "a significant drop in remittances from migrant workers to their families in conflict areas."


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