GENEVA - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing for a record $1.68 billion to help millions of people whose lives are torn apart by armed conflict and violence. The Swiss humanitarian agency says an explosion of conflict and violence, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, is threatening regional stability and putting development prospects of impoverished countries at risk.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says the nature of armed conflict is changing. ICRC President Peter Maurer said new kinds of crises are emerging, in new combinations, often with a regional dimension.
“We are not anymore in a situation where we have a clear cut international or internal armed conflicts with clear cut front lines and positions unfolding in front of us. We see international armed conflict, internal armed conflict, criminal violence, inter-communal violence, super-positioning itself in the same context,” he said.
Maurer said the conflict in Syria has long ceased to be a civil war. It has become a regional crisis engulfing Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. He said extremism is deepening some of the conflicts being waged, leading to increasingly violent behavior.
“Two-hundred thousand people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, 9200 civilians have been killed since the beginning of this year in Iraq. Syria and Iraq have become the epicenters of regional and global insecurities,” said Maurer.
Syria, ICRC largest operation
Syria is the largest ICRC operation followed by South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the occupied territories, Mali, the Central African Republic and Ukraine.
Maurer said conflict and violence not only kills people, it kills development. He said it is sad to see how even modest progress, which has been made in some impoverished conflict-ridden countries has been destroyed. He said health systems, water and sanitation systems, and habitats are being disrupted by violence.
“It is not limited, but exemplified with the conflict in the Middle East. But, we see the same phenomenon in the Sahel," he said. We see the same phenomenon in the Horn of Africa, with massive displacements and neighboring countries not coping with the number of displaced and, therefore, health, water, sanitation, housing systems disintegrating. States basically not capable any more to deliver basic services to people.”
Given the increasing dangers, the Red Cross reports it plans to focus greater attention on the protection needs of people caught in conflict. It said, though, it will continue to give priority to health, particularly surgical care for the wounded.
The Red Cross also plans to strengthen its response to sexual violence in places such as the Central African Republic, Central America, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Mali and South Sudan.