The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched a record appeal to cover its response to increasingly complex humanitarian needs worldwide. The Geneva based organisation is calling on donors for 1.047 billion Swiss francs for field operations - a 12 percent increase on the 2010 budget.
Though the July rains this year held the promise of a more or less normal harvest in Mali and Niger, for many years both countries have been hit by repeated droughts. The lack of heavy rain from September 2009 to July this year is one of the main causes of the serious food crisis in the region. Grazing land is dwindling and herders are having to cover ever greater distances with their animals to find green land. But this land often belongs to farmers, who are themselves increasingly struggling to find cultivable land. Scarcer resources exacerbate intercommunal tension, and conflict is particularly violent in the dry season.
Several rebel groups and bandits are spreading fear and chaos in many parts of the Central African Republic. Regular attacks on civilians are resulting in killings, abductions, rapes and looting. They are forcing people to flee their homes to find a safe haven. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, putting pressure on already impoverished host communities.
Since fighting intensified in eastern Congo in August 2008 between government troops and armed opposition groups, the number of opposition groups, the number of cases of rape and other sexual abuse against civilians has been increasing.