Red Cross and Red Crescent teams from around the world are still responding in Ukraine where the military conflict has been affecting people’s lives for more than a year, and in Türkiye and Syria after the devastating earthquakes which took thousands of lives and caused significant damage across the region.
So what does that mean — Red Cross and Red Crescent teams? Answer — there are 192 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the globe and the American Red Cross is one of them. Along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), these 192 societies make up the world’s largest humanitarian network which helps people facing crises all over the world.
These three distinct parts are independent of one other but joined in seven Fundamental Principles. The three parts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are:
National Societies Nearly every independent country in the world has a Red Cross or Red Crescent society -- 192 to be exact. The American Red Cross is one of these societies.
All Red Cross and Red Crescent activities have one central purpose: to help those who suffer, without discrimination. Each society carries out its mission in different ways -- from responding to home fires and hurricanes to conflict, traffic accidents and loneliness.
These organizations are chartered by their respective governments and, together, they assist one in 65 people in the world each year.
ICRC The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusive humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance.
Established in 1863, the ICRC works all over the world, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence. During situations of conflict, the ICRC responds quickly, also helping after disasters in regions affected by armed conflict. It also promotes the importance of international humanitarian law and draws attention to universal humanitarian principles.
As the custodian of the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has a permanent mandate under international law to visit prisons, organize relief operations, reunite separated families and undertake other humanitarian activities during armed conflicts.
The ICRC also works to meet the needs of internally displaced persons, raise public awareness of the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war and trace people who have gone missing during conflicts.
IFRC The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was founded in 1919 in Paris in the aftermath of World War I. The war had shown a need for close cooperation between Red Cross Societies, which, through their humanitarian activities on behalf of prisoners of war and combatants, had attracted millions of volunteers and built a large body of expertise. A devastated Europe could not afford to lose such a resource.
It was Henry Davison, president of the American Red Cross War Committee, who proposed forming a federation of these National Societies. An international medical conference initiated by Davison resulted in the birth of the League of Red Cross Societies, which was renamed in October 1983 to the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and then in November 1991 to become the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Today the IFRC coordinates between the 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, all of whom provide a variety of humanitarian services, both in situations of war and peace, contribute to public health and social services, and support the development of their countries.
Want to know more about the red cross, red crescent, and red crystal emblems? See this story for more info.