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ICRC appeals for funds for most vulnerable

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed for SFr1.1 billion ($918 million) to help save lives in Sudan, Iraq and other hot spots in 2009.

The Swiss-run aid agency said on Thursday the cumulative impact of armed conflict, high commodity prices, the economic crisis, and environmental factors, like drought, would hit the poorest and most vulnerable people particularly hard.

"This is already the case in Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen, where millions of people will need more assistance next year," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger.

The organisation plans to spend SFr996.9 million on its operations and the rest on administration.

The planned field budget is seven per cent higher than the corresponding figure in 2008 and the highest since 2000.

Sudan remains the ICRC's largest humanitarian operation (SFr102 million), followed by Iraq (SFr95.9 million) and Afghanistan (SFr73.1 million).