The International Committee of the Red Cross will cut about 1,500 jobs and scale back activities in some operations, the 160-year-old Swiss organisation has said amid a financial crisis that has triggered significant cost-saving measures as well as reductions in humanitarian activities.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported the Swiss humanitarian organisation’s financial crisis following an apparent inability to implement an estimated field budget of 2.5 billion CHF (($2.7 billion) for 2023, the largest ever, due to funding shortfalls. Insiders allege mismanagement of funds.
Consequently, as we earlier reported, the organisation started considering “hard and painful” activities of cutting activities, threatening delivery assistance to people in emergencies across the world, including Nigeria.
In a statement seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, ICRC said its governing board had approved cost savings totalling 450 million CHF ($475.30 million) in one year between 2023 and early 2024.
“Approximately 1,500 jobs worldwide will have to be cut over the coming 12 months,” ICRC said. “At least 20 of currently 350 locations around the world will close – where, for example, the area can be covered by another ICRC office, or where other humanitarian or development partners can take over.”
“We will also be scaling back and closing some of our programmes.”
In Nigeria, which hosts one of ICRC’s largest operations by expenditure (75.5 million CHF or $82.4 million in 2021), the head of the delegation, Yanna Bozon, had told staff in late March that “downsizing and cutting down of our operations” should be expected, PREMIUM TIMES learnt from sources who participated in the meeting.
Details of the approved cuts have not been confirmed but Mr Bozon told his colleagues he had sent a proposal to Geneva and that “sometimes in April, those to be affected will be informed and also some departments may be scrapped,” one source said.
Several thousands of people require humanitarian assistance in Nigeria’s northeast following the campaign of violence by Boko Haram and the counterterrorism measures to stop them. Thousands of families, including children, face malnutrition. The conflict-induced food crisis has been exacerbated by climate change, manifesting notably in rapid desertification and the shrinking of Lake Chad that millions of people had relied on for livelihoods.
The Red Cross (ICRC) works in this Nigeria’s humanitarian context as well as other parts of the Lake Chad region – Cameroon, Chad, and Niger – ripped apart by terrorism. This operation may now suffer, staff in Nigeria fear.
Read PREMIUM TIMES’ earlier exclusive report on the ICRC’s financial crisis here.
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