Vienna, 17 February 2013 – “On 17 February 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was founded in Geneva. Ever since then, it has been active in the many troubled regions of the world, providing humanitarian support for the victims of wars and armed conflicts, visiting prisoners of war and political prisoners, establishing contact between family members and mediating between warring factions”, said Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“From the initiative of Henry Dunant, who had witnessed the horrors of war in person, grew an international organisation that is solely committed to the humanitarian ideal and whose work focuses on protecting the dignity and integrity of the individual, independent of nationality, origin, political or religious conviction”, the Foreign Minister continued. “Current conflicts such as the ones in Syria or Mali show us yet again just how important the work of the ICRC and its staff is worldwide, not just in relieving the suffering of the civilian population in armed conflicts, but also in detecting violations of international humanitarian law. The over 11,000 staff members of the ICRC who provide help for the suffering population in 80 countries worldwide, often under extremely dangerous conditions, deserve our gratitude and appreciation. Austria also provides financial contributions to facilitate the work of the ICRC on the spot”, the Vice-Chancellor continued.
“Furthermore, the ICRC has an important function in monitoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions and in developing, promoting and strengthening international humanitarian law. Austria has always welcomed this great role that the ICRC plays in strengthening international humanitarian law and thus also welcomes the ongoing activities of the ICRC to ensure compliance with and improved implementation of this law”, Spindelegger concluded.
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