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Red Cross Challenges Grow as Violence Escalates Globally


The head of the Red Cross says worsening conflict in some of the world's most difficult trouble spots present the organization with ever more complex humanitarian challenges. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from ICRC headquarters in Geneva.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger says violence around the world has resulted in large-scale internal displacement. He says more robust efforts are needed to be made to help the displaced, especially women and children.

The ICRC chief said increasing violence in Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Sri Lanka, have caused "immeasurable suffering."

"It is quite clear that if international humanitarian law would be better respected, you would have much less internal displacement," said Kellenberger. "You would have much less because international humanitarian law, it is prohibiting totally attacks on civilians. It is also prohibiting forced displacement."

Kellenberger said the ICRC has also sent a convoy of 11 trucks carrying 220 tons of food for 20,000 Palestinians trapped in the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon.

He says the trucks have left Amman, Jordan and should reach the camp on Friday.

"The situation remains extremely tense. I have also to say that the water supply system after having been damaged is now out of service and the camp is without electricity. We could not directly go into the camp," he said. "And, we were, the ICRC, we were distributing water, bottled water at the entry of the camp. We remain extremely concerned about the security of up 20,000 civilians who are still inside the camp."

Fighting between the militant Fatah al-Islam group and the Lebanese army broke out on Sunday. At least 22 militants and 32 soldiers reportedly have been killed. The civilian death toll is unknown.

About a third of the camp's residents have fled and gone to Beddawi, another refugee camp. Kellenberger says the ICRC has already distributed 20 tons of relief supplies to the Palestinians.

Last year, the ICRC reports the agency provided water, sanitation and construction projects for 16 million people. The Swiss humanitarian agency also provided medical care for sick and wounded people caught in conflict. Its delegates visited detainees and traced lost relatives.

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