Red Cross speaks of a dramatic budget gap

GENEVA: The Red Cross is preparing for a shortfall of up to a quarter of its 2023 budget, which could result in cuts in some operations, its boss has told Swiss media.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) fears it might not be able to raise 500 to 700 million Swiss francs ($540 to 750 million) from a budget of 2.79 billion francs, its director-general Robert Mardini told Le Temps Daily on Tuesday.

“If this is confirmed, we will not have the resources to help the population in the hard-to-reach areas where our presence is most important,” he warned.

The war raging in Ukraine has drawn international attention and monopolizes a large chunk of global aid funds.

There are also a number of other factors behind the deficits, including growing donor fatigue amid a confluence of conflict and other crises.

Rising inflation is also making itself felt.

“There are obviously fewer donations for humanitarian aid in general,” Mardini told RTS, adding, “This trend is now intensifying with the war in Ukraine.”

Communities affected by a long line of crises “are being forgotten by the international community, which is not facing up to the challenges,” he said.

The ICRC, which was established 160 years ago, warned that of its 10 largest operations – Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen – only Ukraine appears ready in be fully funded this year.

United Nations agencies have also sounded the alarm that many of their humanitarian operations are dramatically and increasingly underfunded.

In addition to the war in Ukraine, other factors are also responsible for the deficits.

The need is growing, even if donor fatigue is proving to be particularly acute in the face of years of conflict with no end in sight.

A recent donor conference for war-ravaged Yemen, for example, raised barely a quarter of the $4.3 billion target.

At the same time, rising inflation is driving up the cost of humanitarian operations around the world.

“The next few months will be crucial,” Mardini told RTS.

“If donors don’t go up, we’ll have to adjust our ambitions down.”

That’s why he sounded the alarm earlier this year, hoping to mobilize more donor support.

“Depending on the response, we will do what we need to do to ensure financial balance.” -AFP Red Cross speaks of a dramatic budget gap

Russell Falcon

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