Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Global Drop-In: Checking in with the ICRC

With so much turmoil and conflict sprouting all over the world, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has had its hands full trying to support the needs of thousands of civilians across multiple nations.  Let’s take a closer look and see just what the ICRC has been up to lately.

President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, has recently returned from a six day long excursion to Iraq to monitor relief efforts.  Thousands of men, women, and children have become displaced as they attempt to flee violence in their region, and local Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters are working with the ICRC and lead officials of Iraq to provide basic necessities for these individuals.  The ICRC has vowed to provide shelter, food, water, and healthcare services to those individual affected by the spreading violence.

In addition to relief efforts, the ICRC seeks to preserve human dignity by insuring that international humanitarian laws and standards are being met throughout the conflict.  As a part of this mission, the ICRC will be making frequent visits to detention centers to assess the condition of detainees connected with the violence in Iraq and make sure international humanitarian standards are being met.  In addition, the ICRC is working with Iraqi officials to provide accountability for armed and security forces operating within Iraq to guarantee that they are abiding by international humanitarian law.

Finally, with so many displaced individuals, families are often broken up and separated with no means of communication.  Teams of Red Cross volunteers on the ground are doing everything they can to help these individuals reestablish communication to bring families back together.  In certain cases, these volunteers are charged with the responsibility of passing along short oral ‘safe and well’ messages between separated family members.

The ICRC is working tirelessly to help provide relief for thousands of displaced citizens.  Efforts in Iraq have jumped to the 4th largest in the ICRC’s budget, totaling roughly $78 million USD.  As a whole, one-third of the organization’s worldwide budget is used to fund operations in the Middle East.

The tumultuous situation in the Middle East demands large scale humanitarian aid now, more than ever.  The resources of the ICRC are limited, but every life changed through efforts to alleviate human suffering and reconnect families is a step in the right direction.  While the ICRC has limited power to end conflict in Iraq, it is proud to at least be able to provide solace and sanctuary to those affected by it.

Andrew Basham
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter

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