Country: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
As 2018 drew to a close, a paradox became more starkly evident: although overall the global population is healthier, wealthier and better connected than ever, progress has not necessarily led
Conflicts raging in particularly vulnerable parts of the world continue to have a massive impact on
local people and neighbouring countries, often fuelling regional instability.
In these conflicts we
have seen regular breaches of international humanitarian law, disproportionate attacks in urban
areas and the targeting of civilians, civilian services and humanitarian workers.
Men, women and
children have suffered not only the immediate impact of death and injury but the destruction of
their homes, schools and livelihoods.
Today, it is the combination of threats – violence, “terrorism”, anti-terrorist measures and
policies, together with developmental deficits, injustice, exclusion and climate change – that is
driving people further into need.
In 2018 the ICRC made a difference in people’s lives in over 90 countries, with our biggest operations taking place in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
In some protracted conflicts, we have been operating for decades; in other places, we increased our activities in response to fresh emergencies.
Everywhere we worked, we upheld the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence.
With increasing restrictions placed on humanitarian action, this approach was challenging in
many countries, requiring us to gain acceptance through negotiation and diplomatic efforts to
reach people in need and to protect humanitarian methodologies.
We prioritized staying close to
those who needed our support and, in so doing, demonstrated the unique value of our approach.
The terrible images of the devastation in Eastern Ghouta, the eerie landscape of Rakhine and the
drawings of children in the camp in Kaga Bandoro stayed with me throughout the year – and so
did the dedication of our colleagues, who put the humanitarian spirit into practice in the face
of adversity every day.
As every year, we stepped up when crisis struck – the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo, renewed fighting in the Gaza Strip, the migration crisis in Central America – often
with the support of our partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
In many places, from South Sudan to Ukraine, we maintained our capacity to act as a neutral intermediary.
In the Astana and Stockholm processes for Syria and Yemen, the ICRC was recognized as having the legitimacy and expertise to speak about humanitarian concerns regarding detention and missing people.
The humanitarian forensic project we carried out in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, which involved exhuming and identifying soldiers buried there, not only brought real relief to the families but also showcased a creative model of humanitarian action.
The generous support of our funding partners signalled continued trust and confidence in the
We are grateful for their contributions, which helped us cover our expenses in 2018 (1.93
billion Swiss francs, which represents an implementation rate of 94%), and are hopeful that the
downward trend of flexible funding – so critical to the delivery of neutral, impartial, independent
humanitarian action – will be reversed.
Despite this, the humanitarian funding ecosystem still needs to improve the way it functions and
to transition to a new business model – one where the needs of communities trapped in protracted
conflicts are addressed through a wider lens, by breaking down silos in our approach through
partners and reinforcing the sustainability of the ICRC’s activities, which in turn will allow us to
support the resilience of the communities we want to serve.
We need to be innovative if we want
to bridge the steadily growing gap between people’s needs and what we are actually able to deliver
to address those needs.
The ICRC’s new Institutional Strategy 2019–2022 has identified key priorities for the coming years.
Given the challenging dynamics of today’s conflicts, it focuses on areas such as strengthening
protection and prevention, ensuring a sustainable humanitarian impact, digital transformation
and partnering with others.
The strategy has been well received by our donors and supporters, and
I am confident that it will help us to meet the humanitarian challenges ahead.
In this respect, our ability to create partnerships and collaborate in new and different ways will be
No single sector can respond alone to the depth and breadth of humanitarian crises: progress
will require strong support from States, international organizations and civil society at large.
While the neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian space is still the best place to reset
lives and reconcile, humanitarian actors can spearhead efforts at front lines and guide others
through the landscape of fragmented societies, security challenges and multifaceted needs.
In the coming years, we will continue to work with our partners, relying on their skills, expertise,
resources and financial contributions to make an impact.
Thank you to all who championed the
work of the ICRC in 2018.
I look forward to your continued support into the future.