ICRC to cut 270 jobs in Geneva amid financial crisis

Geneva, ICRC headquarters. (ICRC/Dorothée Baumann)

The 160-year-old humanitarian organisation has announced a first wave of redundancies at its headquarters as it grapples with a major funding shortfall that will see it cut a total of around 1,500 jobs.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday that it will cut around 270 jobs from its headquarters in Geneva as the world’s largest humanitarian organisation grapples with a major financing crisis.

The announcement comes after the ICRC revealed in April that it would cut some 1,500 from its operations worldwide and shutter operations in 26 of its 350 locations after a dramatic reduction in its 2023 budget from CHF 2.8 billion to CHF 2.4bn.

For 2024, its initial budget forecast has been estimated at CHF 2.1bn – a 13 per cent decrease compared with its 2023 revised budget. 

Around 1,400 people are employed at its Geneva headquarters. The ICRC said further staff reductions in other locations would be announced in November once it completes its budget process for 2024 and presents its strategy for the coming years.

“This is a difficult moment for valued members of staff, and we are working to support those impacted,” the organisation said in a statement.

The ICRC, which turned 160 this year, has been hit by a number of factors, from escalating humanitarian needs and reduced aid budgets to governance issues and an identity crisis within the organisation as it has tried to adapt to an ever-growing remit and range of missions. 

Read also: Between a rock and a hard place: crisis-hit ICRC at pains to deliver in Ukraine

In an interview with Le Temps, translated by Geneva Solutions last month, ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, who took office last year, said the “internal budget realities” faced by major donor countries meant that the organisation would have to strengthen resilience and planning.

“In 2024, the ICRC will be implementing a deliberate global strategy to prioritise areas where it has unique value, expertise and access as a neutral humanitarian organisation,” the organisation said in a statement.

“With this clear vision, our overriding goal is to ensure that the ICRC reaches people in areas close to the frontlines where others are not working; to provide protection services such as working in detention centres and reuniting families separated by conflict; to play our role as a neutral intermediary; and to promote respect for international humanitarian law to reduce the human costs of war.”