Brussels, 5 August 2005 - The European Commission, has adopted a decision worth €4 million to support the protection activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Pakistan. The funds are channelled through the Commission's humanitarian aid department (ECHO) which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.
During the last decade, the world has experienced a growing number of armed conflicts, often involving widespread disregard for international humanitarian law (IHL). Warring parties, and in particular, irregular armed groups, militias and foreign mercenaries, have little knowledge or respect for the legal requirement to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. The result is that, since 1945, civilians have accounted for around 90% of war deaths.
Non-combatants are often caught up in the violence of war and are even specifically targeted. Forced displacement, massacres, hostage-taking, rape, abductions of children to fight with armed groups: the list of IHL violations committed daily, is a long one.
Protecting conflict victims is the mainstay of the ICRC's mandate. As a neutral and independent organization, it strives to ensure that all parties to a conflict provide individuals and groups with the full protection due to them under the Geneva Conventions and other IHL instruments.
The Commission shares ICRC's view that improving compliance with IHL is one of today's most pressing challenges. This new funding decision reflects Commission's commitment to support ICRC in implementing its core protection mandate.