Robert Mardini, the Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), during gestures during an interview with AFP in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 9, 2022. (PHOTO / AFP)
GENEVA - With the world currently facing multiple crises including climate change, armed conflicts and COVID-19, a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on the international community to step up humanitarian aid.
Robert Mardini, director-general of ICRC, also praised China's role in promoting international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.
"Unfortunately, the world is not in a good place," Mardini told Xinhua in an exclusive interview at the organization's headquarters in Geneva.
Robert Mardini, director-general of ICRC named China "a key player in the international arena" which has "played a very positive role when it comes to advocating for humanitarian access" at the United Nations Security Council in New York
Ukraine is the ICRC's biggest operation this year, Mardini said. However, he also emphasized that there are currently more than 100 other armed conflicts across the globe.
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"All those conflicts are unfortunately below the radar of the international community," he said.
"Most of them are in places where people and communities are hard hit by the compounded effects of armed conflict, climate shocks as a result of climate change, the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19, and now the global knock-on effects of the Ukraine-Russia conflict."
China humanitarian engagement
Mardini named China "a key player in the international arena" which has "played a very positive role when it comes to advocating for humanitarian access" at the United Nations Security Council in New York.
"China has also been advocating for ... the protection of civilians in the midst of the Ukraine-Russia armed conflict," he said.
ICRC has a long-standing dialogue with China and "in many African countries where ICRC is present, China has a very significant anchorage," he noted, adding that ICRC and China engage in dialogue on international humanitarian law, humanitarian access and development priorities.
About 60 countries where the ICRC has large operations are located along China's Belt and Road Initiative, Mardini said. "The vast majority of these countries are affected by armed conflict, climate change, and socio-economic disruptions."
The ICRC signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Red Cross Society of China here on Friday.
"It will be very important to further the discussion on the importance of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions," Mardini said.
While the number of violent and armed conflicts is growing around the world, the fundraising environment for non-profit organizations is becoming more difficult, and budgets are shrinking.
Mardini said that the ICRC's funding appeal for 2023, at 2.8 billion Swiss francs ($3.05 billion), is the highest ever. This is a huge challenge both for fundraising, and in terms of delivering humanitarian aid, Mardini said.
He noted that the challenge is in places such as Afghanistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, the Lake Chad region and Syria, which are "key hotspots" for the ICRC's work and mission.
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Established in 1863, the ICRC helps people affected by conflict and armed violence, and promotes laws that protect victims of war.
It is funded mainly by donations from governments, and from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
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