International Red Cross Warns of Budget Shortfall

International Red Cross Warns of Budget Shortfall

The International Committee of the Red Cross is facing an unprecedented budget shortfall caused by conflict in the Middle East, the Guardian reports.

As of late September, the year-to-date funding gap for the humanitarian organization's operations in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon had reached 80 million Swiss francs ($82 million). Robert Mardini, the organization's regional director for the Middle East, told the Guardian that unless the organization's funding needs in the region are met, more refugees will risk making the hazardous journey to Europe.

In Syria, where twelve million people are in need of humanitarian aid, the organization is providing clean water for five million people, delivering food, and providing healthcare services. Working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the organization also has "substantially improved" its access in the country, said Mardini, doubling the number of operations carried out across frontlines over the past year.

With an estimated field budget requirement of $1.65 billion, a record, the ICRC needs more than $123 million every month to sustain its operations. Over the past five years, the organization's field budget has increased nearly 50 percent, with global needs outpacing funding support, even as some donor governments have increased their support. Mardini told the Guardian that there have been "positive signals" from the UK and other European governments, and he is hopeful that donors will step up to fill the funding gap by the end of the year.

"When you develop and offer public services to the population, you can give them options to stay," said Mardini. "There are other parameters in the mix, but at least it can help people to decide to stay because the default position for people is to stay close to their homes."