News / Middle East

Report: Syria Most Expensive ICRC Humanitarian Operation

FILE - Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley receive humanitarian aid from the ICRC, October 16, 2012.FILE - Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley receive humanitarian aid from the ICRC, October 16, 2012.
x
FILE - Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley receive humanitarian aid from the ICRC, October 16, 2012.
FILE - Syrian refugees in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley receive humanitarian aid from the ICRC, October 16, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
Syria has moved ahead of Afghanistan to become the International Committee of the Red Cross' (ICRC) most expensive humanitarian operation this year followed by Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ICRC says this shift in position reflects the increased needs of the Syrian population as the crisis in that country continues to escalate. The ICRC has just launched its 2012 annual report in Geneva.
 
Last year, the International ICRC spent more than $1 billion assisting millions of people in 80 countries. It says many of the emergencies and protracted crises to which it responded continue to devastate lives in 2013. 
 
One of the most dramatic examples of this is Syria, which has moved up from fifth place in 2012 to become the agency's costliest operation this year. 
 
ICRC President Peter Maurer says the escalating armed conflict in Syria has caused unprecedented suffering and extraordinary violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. He says the situation in Syria is particularly serious because all parties are guilty of, what he calls, patterns of violations of international humanitarian law.
 
"I am not of the opinion that this is happening by chance. Patterns of violations happen because of a political climate of permissiveness and unaccountability," he said. "What is happening at the present moment in and around Syria politically is a space in which each and every side is encouraged to win militarily over the other.  And, because it is encouraged to win over the other, it is encouraged to violate international humanitarian law." 
 
The report says the deteriorating security situation in many parts of the world is creating significant challenges for Red Cross workers. Maurer says 2012 was the most difficult year since 2003 and 2005 when an ICRC delegate was murdered in Pakistan and another staff member was killed in Yemen. 
 
Maurer says health care workers whose job it is to save lives run into many dangers. Some of these stem from, what he calls, the weaponization of certain facilities.

"Hospitals, but also schools, churches, mosques are attacked and some groups and fighters misuse hospitals, schools, mosques, churches and other religious installations to bring arms into those installations, which make them again susceptible to military attack," he said.
 
Maurer says aid agencies are doing their best to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.  But, he notes there is a huge discrepancy between the ability to cope with the Syrian crisis and the escalating speed with which the demands are growing.
 
The ICRC president says it is relatively easy for the agency to raise money for high-profile operations, such as Syria and Mali. But, he notes it is increasingly difficult to find funding for humanitarian activities in the world's forgotten tragedies.These include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Somalia.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs