Rising food prices force Red Cross costs to record levels
The International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) said rising food prices had pushed its budget to record levels in
2008, as the organization presented its activities report Tuesday.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said the Red Cross had increased its budget six times since January and also warned the world food crisis risked causing more conflicts.
"The food crisis could create new situations of violence and armed conflict," he said and pointed to the deteriorating situation in Chad, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Haiti.
Conflicts were exacerbated by the need to secure natural resources with economic factors playing a more and more crucial role.
Food and petrol price rises made it very difficult for millions of people on the margins of society who were also facing the hardship of war, he said.
The Red Cross expected to spend an estimated 97 million dollars more in 2008 on top of the 784 million spent in 2007 bringing the total to more than 880 million. Kellenberger said: "We will achieve record spending this year."
Its costs had risen in its operations across the world. The situation in Somalia was particularly dramatic he said because of the armed conflict, drought and extra food costs. The budget had virtually doubled in 2008 to almost a 100 million dollars to assist 500,000 Somalis for four months.
According to the report, in 2007, the Red Cross had helped more than 4 million internally displaced people forced to flee their homes owing to violence.
The organization's workers had also visited 2,400 places of detention with more than half a million detainees, more than 36,000 of whom were monitored independently.
However, the organization had still been refused access to detainees in Myanmar after two years of negotiations.
The ICRC had "tried, but to no avail, to overcome the difficulties that prevented it from visiting detainees and working for the benefit of civilians affected by the violence in sensitive border areas," said Kellenberger, dpa reported.