Tag Archives: Red Crescent

Did you know every year on May 8th we celebrate World Red Cross Day? I am sure many of you, like me before I was a volunteer with the American Red Cross, have never heard of World Red Cross Day. Below are some facts to give you a better understanding of what World Red Cross Day is, how it came about and why it is so important.

What is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day?

It is an annual celebration of the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The seven principals are HUMANITY, IMPARTIALITY, NEUTRALITY, INDEPENDENCE, VOLUNTARY SERVICE, UNITY, and UNIVERSALITY. Each year about 97 million members and volunteers of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are honored on this day making it the largest humanitarian network of relief worldwide serving over 170 countries.

Why is it celebrated on May 8th?

May 8th is the birthday Henri Dunant who founded the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 1863 in the Geneva, Switzerland.

Henri Dunant

Jean Henri Dunant (May 8, 1828 –October  30, 1910), also known as Henry Dunant, was a Swiss businessman and social activist. In 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize, along with Frederic Passay, for his role in founding the International Red Cross Movement and initiating the Geneva Convention. In 1903 Dunant was given an honorary doctorate by the medical faculty of the University of Heidelberg.

He died on October 30th 1910, and his final words were “Where has humanity gone”? The former nursing home in Heiden, Switzerland where Durant died is now the Henry Dunant Museum. In Geneva, there are numerous streets, squares, and schools named after him. The Henry Dunant Medal is awarded every two years by the standing commission of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It is its highest decoration.

How did Henri come up with the idea to start the International Red Cross?

During a business trip in 1859, he witnessed the aftermath of a battle in Solferino, Italy. He recorded his memories and experiences in the book A Memory of Solferino .  In 1862, 1,600 copies of the book were published and printed at Dunant’s own expense.  Dunant’s experiences at Solferino inspired the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. In his book, he described the battle, its costs, and the chaotic circumstances afterwards.  After the war, he visited with wounded soldiers and was shocked by the lack of facilities, personnel, and medical aid available to help them. He abandoned the original intent of his trip and spent his time helping with the treatment and care for the wounded soldiers.

 What is International Red Cross and Red Crescent  Movement ?

It is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide. The International Red Cross Movement was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The movement consists of several distinct organizations that are legally independent from each other, but are united within the movement through common basic principles, objectives, symbols, statutes and governing organizations.Red cross day

 When was the first World Red Cross Day celebrated?

It was first celebrated as the Red Cross Day on May 8th 1948. Later, it was officially named as the “World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day” in 1984.

When was the International Committee of the Red Cross Founded?

Their first meeting was held on February 17, 1863 which is considered the founding date.

What is the theme for 2014?

World Red Cross Day theme of 2014 was “Together for Humanity”

How can you celebrate World Red Cross Day

You can celebrate World Red Cross Day and World Red Crescent Day in a variety of ways:

  • Learn more about the Red Cross
  • Support Red Cross programs and efforts
  • Send a donation to the Red Cross
  • Donate blood today
  • Become a Red Cross volunteer
  • Thank Red Cross volunteers for their service

— Posted by Jennifer Ingram, SEPA Red Cross Communications Volunteer

Did you know?

May 8th, is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is celebrating 150 years of humanitarian action.

How did it all begin?

In 1859, a man named Jean Henri Dunant, also known as Henry Dunant was appalled at the fate of wounded soldiers on both sides of the battle between French and Austrian forces at Solferino. His attempts to help inspired two ideas about a humanitarian response to assist the victims of armed conflicts. He believed that armies should be obliged to care for all wounded soldiers and that a national society should be formed to support military medical services. With the help of the Public Welfare Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, Dunant was able to enact his vision of a national society and by October 1863, an international conference was convened to spread his humanitarian vision to countries all over the world.

The conference adopted the emblem of a red cross on a white background so that medical personnel could be easily identified on the battlefield. The Ottoman Empire adopted the red crescent in the 1870’s, as it was more in keeping with their Islamic faith. In December 2005, an additional emblem – the red crystal – was created alongside the red cross and the red crescent.

Now, the ICRC plays a vital role in helping victims of war, conflict and disaster all over the world. It has a permanent mandate to help prisoners, care for the wounded and sick, and assist civilians affected by conflict. According to the ICRC website, every day Red Cross workers ease the pain and disruption of war by:

  • Providing medical assistance for war wounded, displaced people and others affected by armed conflicts
  • Educating others about international humanitarian laws
  • Exchanging messages between members of families separated by armed conflict
  • Helping discover the fate of missing family members
  • Providing emergency relief such as water, sanitation, food, shelter

The ICRC is at work in 92 countries and has a staff of almost 13,000 people. The mission is enormously challenging. There has been a proliferation of new weaponry and military technology sometimes outpaces humanitarian law. Disintegrating nations spawn multiple military factions that are new to the task of warfare and unaware of the international humanitarian laws that govern their actions.

Despite these challenges, the ICRC is committed to remaining a neutral actor in these conflicts in order to assist innocent civilians, children, the wounded and sick and detainees deprived to basic human rights.

The idea of an organized humanitarian response to war and disaster was an important step forward for those who believe that the relief of unnecessary suffering is part of a civilized world.

In fact, here is the story of an idea…
This film, combining colourful animation with recent images, brings to life the history of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement from Henry Dunant and the Battle of Solferino through to today. The film explains the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, the universal humanitarian principles underlying the Movement’s efforts and the general activities carried out by the different components, the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the National Societies, as they work together to help those in need.