A data breach at the International Council of the Red Cross (ICRC) could have serious implications for humanitarian aid according to the United States (US) State Department.
Department spokesman Ned Price explained that for 150 years the ICRC and the wider Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have been essential in protecting vulnerable populations from the harms of armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies.
In fulfilment of that role, the ICRC often does what no one else can — accessing detained people in conflict zones or crossing frontlines to reach those in need. Its independence and impartiality allow it access to confidential information and data, including data on conflict victims and other victims of armed violence, the forcibly displaced, missing persons and other vulnerable populations.
The information it acquires and uses is critical to fulfilling its functions to provide medical services and humanitarian protection and assistance — functions all states pledge to support in instruments such as the Geneva Conventions, Price said in a statement.
“Targeting the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s sensitive and confidential data is a dangerous development.
“It has real consequences: this cyber incident harmed the global humanitarian network’s ability to locate missing people and reconnect families. This is why it is vital humanitarian data be respected and used only for its intended purposes.
“To ensure states and vulnerable people continue to trust and rely on the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for the help they need, states should join the ICRC in raising the alarm about this breach,” according to the statement.