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2011 tested ICRC, director says

Monday, June 25, 2012

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GENEVA, Switzerland, June 25 (UPI) -- Political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa put the ICRC to the test but its general director said the group's work remained indispensable.

The International Committee of the Red Cross released its annual report for 2011. It said its operations in Somalia were the largest in terms of expenditure, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The ICRC's efforts to provide medical and healthcare for the wounded and the sick, benefiting some 6.8 million people around the world, including in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Libya, were stepped up in 2011," ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said in a statement.

Middle East and North African governments faced mass upheavals last year during the so-called Arab Spring. Failed or unsettled uprisings have sparked humanitarian crises in parts of the region.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, is preparing for the withdrawal of international forces by 2014 while Iraq saw U.S. troops leave in December, ending an eight-year war.

Last year, Kellenberger said the organization ran assistance programs in 80 countries despite ongoing attacks on medical personnel.

"Throughout 2011, the value of our impartial, neutral and independent approach was put to the test," he said. "However, I remain convinced that the principled approach we have adopted and the relevance of our humanitarian activities are still indispensable elements in ensuring access to people most in need."


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