Red Cross Humanitarian Diplomacy: Providing Humanitarian Relief for 150 years
By Srimal Fernando Global EditorThe Diplomatic Society
Looking back at the past hundred fifty years, the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is one of the world’s oldest and largest humanitarian aid organisations that works worldwide to help people affected by armed conflict and violence. The International Committee of the Red Cross is requesting the international community to raise a total of 1.6 billion Swiss francs (CHF) to cover the field operations for the fiscal year 2017 (ICRC, 2016).
Photograph: IHL and Principles guiding Humanitarian Action, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Over the past decades the ICRC response to specific emergencies has been praiseworthy and the share of humanitarian aid for critical operations going to Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria has increased. In 2017 ICRC budget allocation has committed a total of 178 million Swiss francs (CHF) to Syria and about 8 percent of the total budget to South Sudan.
Overall, a key part of ICRC’s efforts to support civilian communities affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence, the organization focusses around economic security, restoration of family links, maintain sustainable living environment without disruption to water supplies to conflict zones, assisting in health services, stepping up its efforts to prevent crimes, demining and awareness about unexploded bombs, promoting of international humanitarian law(IHL) and working with the cooperate sector.
For decades the ICRC has been pushing an agenda in Africa and has done some commendable work across the continent. During the 2017 ICRC budgetary allocation for Africa, South Sudan and Nigeria are projected to receive 208 million Swiss francs (CHF) for field operations and another 19 percent will be added from the organization’s finances for the humanitarian assistance operations in other African countries.
In Somalia in recent months the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) assisted 240,000 people affected by severe drought. Severe drought in Somalia has left nearly one in three children in the country malnourished. The ICRC estimates more than 360,000 children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition. The International Committee of the Red Cross treated over 31,000 children in Somalia in 2016.
Photograph: Kunduz province, Afghanistan – 2008. The ICRC and the Afghan Red Crescent Society distribute food to people affected by drought and insecurity. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
For over five years, war in Syria has caused the death of more than 250,000 people and displaced around 6.6 million people inside Syria (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2016). This despite the fact that humanitarian missions by ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have such important bearings in Syria. In addition, in Syria, for example, some 55 cross frontline operations have provided humanitarian relief to 8 million Syrian civilians. It is worthy to mention that in 2016 SARC and ICRC evacuated nearly 35,000 civilians from the besieged Aleppo neighborhoods.
ICRC remains genuinely dedicated to responding to the needs of conflict-affected people in Iraq. Iraqis have been affected and tens of thousands of people were killed by conflict in Iraq since 2014. ICRC have reported over 3.3 million people have been displaced due to the civil war in the country. Of the total ICRC global field operation cost, 10 percent was allocated to countries in the Middle Eastern region other than Syria and Iraq. Similarly, organisation staff members run the risk and frequently encounter dangerous conditions. In Afghanistan the globally respected ICRC is calling for the safe and unconditional release of two staff members as result of an ambush on a convoy killing six employees on the spot. In South Asia, Afghanistan receives one of the largest shares of the allocation of 93.4 million Swiss francs (CHF) for fiscal year 2017 (ICRC 2016).
In this context the overall adaptability and resilience to respond to challenges and confront complex security situations to deliver humanitarian relief globally as a part of humanitarian security agenda and to advocating humanitarian diplomacy process is a daunting task for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC ) every single day.