INTERNATIONAL: International Red Cross to boost comms division

GENEVA: The International Committee of the Red Cross - the organisation tasked with upholding humanitarian law in areas of conflict - has devoted greater emphasis to its communications department in a major reshuffle.

Following an internal restructuring, communications has been upgraded to become one of five newly created directorates in the organisation.

The reshuffle means head of communications Yves Daccord takes the title of comms director with a seat at the organisation's top table and a direct reporting line to director general Angelo Gnaedinger for the first time.

Daccord said: 'This is a recognition of the importance of communications and the need to better integrate it into the organisation.'

Of the ICRC's 12,000 staff more than 400 have PR roles, including 230 locally based staff and 30 military experts. Comms staff are understood to be among ICRC personnel in contact with the military and Al-Qa'ida suspects at the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba. There are also understood to be three comms staff among the 400 personnel stationed in Iraq.

Daccord said that while he was satisfied with PR efforts by local staff in areas of conflict, opinion-formers such as key financial and business journalists and politicians, needed to be better targeted.

This is seen as vital as 88 per cent of the organisation's funding comes from individual governments. 'We have good funding at the moment but want to make sure that continues,' Daccord said.

The other four directorates formed in the reshuffle are human resources, operations, operational support and international law and co-operation, which liaises with the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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