The International Committee of the Red Cross is appealing for more than $1 billion to provide emergency assistance for hundreds of thousands of people in 2010. The ICRC says it plans to significantly increase the amount of money it spends on medical services for people adversely affected by armed conflict.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says its 10 largest operations for 2010 will be the same as those this year, with one exception. The civil war in Sri Lanka has ended, but has been replaced by the conflict in Yemen.
The ICRC says Afghanistan is projected to become its biggest humanitarian operation next year, followed by Iraq and Sudan. The other big operations are in South Asia, eastern Africa and the Middle East.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger says next year's expenditure would remain virtually unchanged from 2009. But he notes spending on medical activities would increase by $12 million or by seven percent.
"If you look at our medical expenditure worldwide, the majority would still go into supporting hospital structures and health posts." said Kellenberger. "But, it is true that we have re-entered the area of handling ourselves, of managing ourselves, hospitals when we feel that circumstances do require it."
Kellenberger says field hospitals will be expanded in Pakistan, and access to primary health care and first aid improved. He says more money will go to support limb-fitting centers.
"In Afghanistan, the ICRC is almost like the ministry for the handicapped persons. Our six orthopedic centers, they have about 86,000 patients. So, that gives you just an idea of what assistance means in the orthopedic field, just with regard to one context like Afghanistan."
Kellenberger says most assistance goes toward economic security in providing food, seeds and fertilizer to destitute people worldwide. He says one of the largest assistance programs is in Somalia.
"Imagine, at present we are assisting in Somalia, together with the Somali Red Crescent, more than 800,000 internally displaced people. So, in the Somali context, for example, you have large needs from the budget line from the assistance program of economic security."
Kellenberger says more people will require assistance because of the global economic crisis and the agency most likely will need to launch additional appeals next year.