The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is facing financial difficulties due to numerous crises and record numbers of people in humanitarian distress, alongside a fall in donations. This week, Switzerland’s Federal Council offered to provide a CHF 50 million loan and delay the repayment of Covid loans by four years to give the organisation time to get back on its feet, reported RTS.
The additional CHF 50 million loan, which has been presented to Switzerland’s parliament for approval, and delayed Covid loan together total CHF 200 million. The extra money is aimed at giving the organisation time to regain its financial footing. These contributions are on top of Switzerland’s CHF 80 million annual contribution to the organisation’s Geneva headquarters and a CHF 60 million provision for field work in 2023.
The original Committee of the Red Cross met for the first time in February 1863 in Geneva. Among its five members was a man named Henry Dunant who had published a book calling for improved care for wounded soldiers in wartime. By the end of the year the committee had brought together government representatives to agree on Dunant’s proposal for national relief societies, to help military medical services. In August 1864 the committee had persuaded a number of governments to adopt the first Geneva Convention, a treaty that obliged armies to care for wounded soldiers, whatever side they were on. Today, the ICRC helps people across the world affected by conflict and armed violence. It is funded mainly by voluntary donations from governments and from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.