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.
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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.