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ICRC to cut around 1,500 jobs worldwide

icrc headquarters
The headquarters of the ICRC in Geneva, southwestern Switzerland. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The Geneva-based humanitarian group has been struggling with a big funding gap for some time, a situation exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday that the 1,500 job losses would accompany the closure of at least 20 of its 350 global sites. Several aid programmes will also be scaled-back or shelved, it said.

The organisation had already warned that it was facing a shortfall in its desired budget of CHF2.79 billion ($2.99 billion) for 2023; last Thursday, its governing assembly approved cuts of CHF430 million for this year and the beginning of next.

ICRC director Robert Mardini told media last month that there were “fewer donations for humanitarian aid in general” and that the Russia-Ukraine conflict had led to crises in other parts of the world “being forgotten”.

+ Read more on the ICRC’s current role in Ukraine

Of the 10 most important operations of the ICRC, which celebrates its 160th anniversary this year, only Ukraine has a positive funding outlook, Mardini told Swiss public radio RTS. All other operations (Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria) are underfunded, he said.

Rising costs due to inflation also played a role.

On Tuesday the organisation promised to limit layoffs as much as possible, and said it would prioritise cuts via hiring freezes and natural personnel departures.

While there were no details on which jobs and sites would be cut, the ICRC did say it planned to concentrate more on core tasks, including aid for conflict zones and the promotion of international humanitarian law.

The ICRC employs around 20,000 people across the world.

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