Yves Daccord, 52, is director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross. This 153-year-old institution has a continuing mission to protect the victims of war, with direct assistance and by promoting and strengthening the international laws and principles that guard their well-being.
Daccord believes this mission has never been harder. “The gap between the humanitarian needs of the people and the response they receive, not only from us, from anybody, is increasing. …It’s changing quickly.”
The more than 60 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons worldwide is the most since World War II, and more than 600 million people now live in conflict-affected countries. By 2030 two-thirds of the world’s poor will live in “fragile” states–those unable to deal with the extra burden of natural disasters or war.
In response, the Red Cross’ budget has had to grow by 50 per cent in just four years.
There has always been conflict, there are always disasters. What worries Swiss-born Daccord is that he senses a withdrawal, a vacancy at the top. “Today at the top leadership [level] there is a sense of ‘My God, we don’t know how to handle that’.”
Daccord laments a “very inward-looking” Europe that has squandered a decade in which it should have been a world leader in humanitarian work.