Sudan + 4 more

Victims of armed conflict face increased vulnerability in 2009

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is asking donors for more than 1.1 billion Swiss francs (714 million euros / 939 million US dollars) to fund its worldwide efforts to help people affected by armed conflict and other violence in 2009.

"The cumulative impact of armed conflict, high commodity prices, the economic and financial crisis, and environmental factors, such as drought, will hit the poorest and most vulnerable people particularly hard," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger. "This is already the case in Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen, where millions of people will need more assistance next year." Mr Kellenberger added that the ICRC would continue to pay particular attention to the needs of people displaced by armed conflict and of the communities that host them. He stressed that the ICRC's neutrality and independence remained vital to ensuring its unique access to those most in need of help.

The ICRC's initial 2009 budget includes 996.9 million francs for field operations (643 million euros / 845 million dollars) and 168.6 million francs (108 million euros / 143 million dollars) for its headquarters in Geneva. The initial field budget marks a seven per cent increase over the corresponding 2008 figure and is the highest since 2000. Sudan remains the ICRC's largest humanitarian operation, at an expected cost of more than 102 million francs (66 million euros / 87 million dollars) in 2009. It is followed by Iraq (95.9 million francs / 62 million euros / 81 million dollars) and Afghanistan (73.1 million francs / 47 million euros / 62 million dollars).

Food aid, health activities, and water and sanitation programmes make up 58 per cent (547.6 million francs / 353 million euros / 464 million dollars) of the 2009 field budget, a 12 per cent increase over 2008.

"What is striking about 2009 is the prospect of increased vulnerability of people already suffering the effects of armed conflict, such as those who are displaced or detained," said Mr Kellenberger. "The ICRC will have to respond to their needs quickly and to sustain its response over time. By supplying not only food but also seed and tools, and by vaccinating livestock, making available micro-credit and providing training, we can help people to better cope with the impact of armed conflict. The ICRC also strives to pave the way for early recovery, even during emergency situations, in order to enable people to rebuild their lives."

For further information, please contact:

Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17

for AV footage please contact Jan Powell, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 25 11