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ICRC puts war and poverty under the spotlight

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been highlighting the links between war and money in the latest edition of its Focus publication.

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been highlighting the links between war and money in the latest edition of its Focus publication.

Understanding the interaction between war, money and the economy is vital for humanitarian agencies which have to deal with the changing face of war today, says the publication.

In order to avoid negative side-effects and maximise the potential benefits of aid, intervention has to be carefully thought out, it continues. This requires a thorough understanding of the economic dynamics underlying wars in today's globalised world.

The ICRC has set out to do this in the latest edition of Forum magazine in which it looks at globalisation and war, money and war and how aid agencies should be acting.

Gilles Carbonnier, the editor of Focus, said the articles look at how business links to war and conflict are mixed, sometimes contributing to the peace process, sometimes not.

Carbonnier says "there is definitely a call for a more coherent approach from financial institutions" when dealing with regions in conflict. Focus highlights how economic reforms put in place by organisations like the International Monetary Fund or World Bank may not be best timed when implemented immediately after a conflict.

Humanitarian agencies also come under the Focus spotlight as they also play a major role in the economies of many war-torn regions, through long-term development projects or disaster relief operations.

"There is a call for more caution when launching programmes in an emergency phase, that might be difficult for the country to support in the medium or longer term" says Carbonnier.

The writers of the reports in Focus hope that ultimately they will provide food for thought and foster further debate. Some of the report's findings will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in Geneva in June.

by Tom O'Brien.

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