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Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

ICRC Displays Bias on the Covid-19 Crisis in the Middle East

Filed under: International Law, Israel

ICRC Displays Bias on the Covid-19 Crisis in the Middle East
(Felipe Esquivel Reed|CC BY-SA 4.0)

In an April 16, 2020, news release entitled “COVID-19: Middle East faces health crisis, socio-economic earthquake,” the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Near and Middle East Director Fabrizio Carboni expressed concern at the fact that:

The Middle East is today facing the twin threats of potential mass virus outbreaks in conflict zones and looming socio-economic upheaval. Both crises could have severe humanitarian consequences.1

This report, which purports to refer to the general regional situation in the Middle East, is surprisingly, and perhaps even shockingly, inaccurate, slanted, misleading, and lacking in its coverage of the situation in the area. It totally ignores Israel as one of the central and most medically and technologically advanced states in the region.

Carboni’s report deliberately fails to accurately represent the ongoing contribution of Israel in combatting the Covid-19 virus both in the Middle East area and internationally.

In light of its central and vital global humanitarian role, one might expect that the International Red Cross movement, and the ICRC in particular, in pursuit of their constitutional principles of “impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality,” would have made reference, in any official statement devoted to the situation in the Middle East, to the vast and vital contribution made by Israel in combating the Covid-19 virus and in assisting its neighbors, especially the Palestinians.

The Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement state in their preambular provisions:

In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.2

Similarly, the Statutes of the International Committee of the Red Cross define the role of the ICRC as:

to maintain and disseminate the Fundamental Principles of the Movement, namely, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.3

While it may be presumed that the fear of political sanction and criticism by some of the Arab and Muslim states and societies in which the ICRC operates obliges ICRC to be “politically correct” and, in so doing, to literally remove Israel from the Middle East, this cannot be justified.

Whatever may be Fabrizio Carboni’s personal, political viewpoint regarding Israel, he cannot, and should not, as a senior official in charge of ICRC’s Near and Middle East activities, conduct himself in violation of the ICRC’s own Statutes and misrepresent and ignore the fact that Israel exists and plays a central role in the region.

In so doing, in his official statement, he presents an inaccurate and misleading picture of the situation, and as such undermines the ICRC’s own statutory requirements of impartiality, neutrality, universality and independence. He also apparently ignores the extensive amount of reporting on Israel’s activity in combating the Covid-19 virus appearing in the international media, of which the ICRC is well aware.4

It is indeed sad to see the Red Cross Movement descend to the depths of utter bias and partiality as to render such an inaccurate and misleading report. This does nothing but prejudice any credibility and effectiveness that the ICRC may claim to have, as ostensibly the world’s only truly humanitarian organization.

In fact, it reduces the ICRC to the level of being one more politicized organization.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

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2 Handbook of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, 13th ed., ICRC/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1994, p. 417

3Statutes of the International Committee of the Red Cross, as revised, ibid., p. 449, Art. 4 (1)(a).

4  See;