The Red Cross, in financial difficulty, asks for help from Switzerland

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed to Switzerland, one of its main donors, to help it overcome its financial difficulties which have recently prompted it to announce major layoffs. “The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) are currently conducting discussions with the ICRC in order to examine current and future challenges relating to the financial situation of the ICRC,” said a spokesperson. of the FDFA, Andreas Heller.

“The interest-free loan” of 200 million Swiss francs (205 million euros) that Switzerland granted in 2020 to the ICRC to help it mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in the world, “will be included in these reflections,” he added. He thus confirmed information revealed on Sunday by the weekly SonntagsZeitung. “Even with a revised budget of 2.4 billion Swiss francs, we still need significant financial support this year,” ICRC spokeswoman Fatima Sator said on Sunday.

A budget revised to 2.4 billion Swiss francs

Switzerland, whose contribution to the ICRC amounted to 166 million francs last year, is the organisation’s third largest contributor, behind the United States and Germany. Like other organisations, the ICRC is suffering from rising costs linked to inflation and a drop in the generosity of donors, in particular because of the very large funds devoted by Kiev’s allies to helping Ukraine push back Russia.

But the ICRC’s operational budget, which is financed by voluntary contributions, increases every year. Its initial call for funds for 2023, in the amount of 2.8 billion francs, reached a historic high. Faced with the ICRC’s financial difficulties, its governing bodies approved on March 30 a comprehensive cost reduction plan of 430 million Swiss francs for the period from 2023 to the beginning of 2024, bringing the organization’s overall budget to 2, 4 billion francs.

As a result, some 1,800 staff members, out of a total of 20,000 employees, will lose their jobs over the next few months, a figure which does not take into account those likely to be affected by the reduction in the number of missions and the freezing recruitment in certain trades. Of the 350 sites that the organization has around the world, 26 will be closed and others will see their resources considerably reduced.

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