Governments need to redouble their efforts to minimise the humanitarian impact of armed conflict on civilians, says the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In its annual report issued on Wednesday, the Swiss-run ICRC warned that prolonged periods of conflict led to a combination of complex problems, which last long after the story itself is out of the headlines.
"The uncertainty that comes with not being able to return home for years on end or the monotony of walking for hours, day in and day out, to fetch water, is not breaking news… the problems don't stop when public attention shifts elsewhere, nor does our work as humanitarians," said ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger.
He said the drawn-out character of modern-day armed conflicts and rising vulnerability among civilians were reflected in the organisation's near-record spending in 2009 of SFr1.06 billion ($920 million).
Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan were among the organisation's biggest operations last year, representing almost a third of the ICRC's overall expenditure.
The ICRC says the number of people receiving food aid rose from almost 2.79 million in 2008 to 4.07 million in 2009.
The number of patients treated at ICRC-supported health facilities rose from nearly 3.5 million to 5.6 million. Most of the increase was the result of the expansion of community health activities, particularly in Yemen and Zimbabwe.
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