Incorporation of Humanitarian Programs: Ukraine’s Experience

  • Post category:Issue XIX

Alain Aeschlimann
Head of Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross to Ukraine


Abstract. Mr Aeschlimann tells the story of the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross and its main activities. He notes that the Committee was founded by Henri Dunant from Switzerland. The symbol of Red Cross was not a coincidence; Henri Dunant associated it with health protection. It is also noteworthy that the symbol resembles the flag of Switzerland. Since the very inception, the primary responsibility of the organisation was taking care of injured soldiers and captives; later on, it started to help abused people. Soon enough, the organisation began to provide food to the people in need. Mr Aeschlimann also emphasises that the International Committee of the Red Cross has worked in line with the principles of international humanitarian law and cooperated with states for its improvement since its foundation and adoption of the First Geneva Convention. The legal aspect is also an important part of the organisation’s work. In general, the Committee has a broad range of activities, totally depending on the state of a conflict or domestic violence.
The International Committee of the Red Cross launched aggressive activities in 2014, following the outbreak of the military conflict in the east of Ukraine. The organisation pays much attention to the following aspects related to its operation in Ukraine: the conflict was unleashed between nations with similar mentality and is of highly politicised and polarised character. Representatives of the organisation act not only in the territory under Ukrainian control but also in the occupied territory. Mr Aeschlimann mentions that the most challenging aspect of working in Ukraine is to adjust to the fast pace of drastic changes in the country due to sweeping reforms and transition economy. Moreover, the organisation faced certain difficulties in providing humanitarian assistance, but currently all the subtleties have been settled and the ICRC is operating in favourable conditions. Among the priority tasks of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the following can be singled out: expansion of activities, namely measures on the search for missing persons, expansion of a program of support of psychosocial and psychological health. Special attention is drawn to provision of first aid to people near to the collision line.
Mr Aeschlimann also tells how he chose this profession, his free time taking into account a busy working schedule, and his favourite places in Ukraine.
Keywords: the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC mission, the First Geneva Convention, humanitarian assistance, conflict.

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