"International Red Cross and Red Crescent HQ" International Red Cross and Red Crescent Tip by Blatherwick

  International Red Cross and Red Crescent HQ
by Blatherwick

The Red Cross provides humanitarian assistance, medical aid and emergency relief around the world during natural disasters and wars. The Red Cross offers training in first aid, CPR, disaster assistance, lifeguard training, swimming safety and even safe babysitting. The Red Cross also runs blood banks in several countries. The Red Cross run various public health programs and provides home care services for the elderly in some countries. The Red Cross provides care packages for POWs, inspections of POW camps, registration and reunion services for refugees and passports and travel documents for stateless persons.

In 1859, Henry Dunant witnessed the carnage at the Battle of Solférino, where the victory of the French over the Austrians left 40,000 dead and wounded. Although he had been simply passing by, he stayed to help the wounded in the nearby town of Castiglione.

Dunant advocated the establishment of an international network of volunteer relief agencies to act as an "army" of medical services in times of war. On August 22, 1864, representatives from 16 countries adopted the first Geneva Convention, which became the basis for the ICRC.

The red cross (an inversion of the flag of Switzerland) was adopted as the symbol of the movement under the original Geneva Convention. However, in the 1870s, the Ottoman Empire declared it would use the red crescent instead of the red cross. In 1929, the red crescent, as then in use in Egypt and Turkey, and the red lion and sun, as used in Persia, were both formally recognised as alternative emblems. The use of the red lion and sun was discontinued in 1980.

The League of Red Cross Societies changed its name in 1986 to the "International Movement of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent" in recognition of its Muslim Red Crescent branches.

Henry Dunant was awarded the very first Nobel Prize for Peace in 1901, and the International Red Cross subsequently won in the war years of 1917 and 1944 and in its centenary year in 1963.

Address: 17 Avenue de la Paix
Directions: From Cornavin Train Station take bus number 8, F, Z or V. Located in the same area as the United Nations.
Phone: +41 22 748 95 11
Website: http://www.icrc.org

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  • Written Jan 7, 2005
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