Red Cross Reports Record Outlay

A lethal cocktail of war, natural disasters and economic volatility led the international Red Cross to paint a picture of rising global instability Wednesday as it announced record annual expenditure. The Geneva-based humanitarian organizations annual report shows it spent 724 million euro in 2008.

“Millions of people affected by armed conflict have become more vulnerable because of the combined effects of war, natural disasters and continued high food prices, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The ICRCs breakdown showed over 121.000 tons of food distributed to 2,79 million people worldwide last year, more than twice as much as in 2007.  The body said its water, sanitation and construction projects benefited more than 15 million people, with nearly 3,5 million patients treated at health facilities supported by it.

But another reason for the record expenditure is the ICRCs success in gaining access to conflict zones that other aid agencies have difficulty operating in. Much suffering could have been avoided, the Red Cross says, if warring parties had complied with international humanitarian law.

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