Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (file photo)
Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (file photo)

The International Committee of the Red Cross is asking for a record amount of more than $1 billion for emergency operations next year. 

Although the largest number of beneficiary countries are found in Africa, the ICRC's largest humanitarian operation will be in Afghanistan.  

The International Committee of the Red Cross says its budget of more than $89 million reflects, in large part, the acute medical needs of countless war casualties in the country and the need to assist vast numbers of displaced people.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger says the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has worsened.

"I cannot speculate what will happen on the political level next year," he said. "But seen from now in our analysis, they will not decrease.  If anything, they will increase. The fighting is intensifying and the security environment is such that people, mainly people in rural areas, they cannot practically move for example to have medical support. I can tell you that the number of war wounded this year has increased very much."  

Kellenberger says the proliferation of non-state armed groups is inflicting new kinds of harm and suffering on people caught up in fighting.   He says civilians are exposed to multiple risks, from suicide bombings to sexual violence.  

The ICRC President says victims of these atrocities suffer from shortages of food, water and medicine.  These and other emergency needs must be met.

Sudan is the third-largest operation after Afghanistan and Iraq.   Kellenberger calls it a very complex operation.

"It is quite clear that looking at next year, there is a context with a high degree of uncertainty and that does mean that we have as an organization just to be prepared as good as we can for things that can happen, said the ICRC president. "And, we hope that they will not.  The main uncertainty is really what will exactly be the developments after the referendum for the south."  

Kellenberger says he refuses to paint a dramatic scenario now of what might happen should violence break out during Sudan's referendum in January.  That vote will determine whether the South chooses to secede from the North.  

But he says given the history of the region, it would be irresponsible for the Red Cross not to be prepared for an emergency situation.