The international Red Cross cuts budget, staffing levels as humanitarian aid dries up

GENEVA (AP) — The part of the international Red Cross that deals with conflict and prisoners of war announced Monday it will trim its projected budget by about one-eighth next year and cut nearly 20% of staff at its headquarters.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which among other things has focused on detainees on both sides of Russia's war in Ukraine, says it will reduce its initial 2024 budget forecast to 2.1 billion Swiss francs (about $2.4 billion). That's down about 13% compared to its already revised budget for this year.

The ICRC is a sister outfit of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which unites national chapters and focuses on disaster relief, health emergencies and other humanitarian aid activities focusing on vulnerable people.

Funding for humanitarian aid has dried up considerably.

Director-General Robert Mardini said ICRC would need to prioritize its activities and said the United States — its biggest donor — was among the countries that had reduced its contributions in this year.

Even before the latest revisions, the organization in the spring had announced plans to slash 430 million francs in costs worldwide, revising down its appeal for 2.8 billion francs in funding and saying 1,800 people globally would lose their jobs.

The reductions announced Monday involve about 270 staffers among 1,400 at its Geneva headquarters.

The 160-year-old organization, which focuses on victims of war, conflict and other situations of violence, said the cuts come amid a trend of shrinking humanitarian aid budgets, despite rising needs in places wracked by armed conflict such as Sudan, Ukraine and Africa's Sahel region.