World Humanitarian Day recognizes those who have lost their lives or put themselves at risk to help people in need. It is a fitting day to recognize true humanitarians ─ the more than 16 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers ─ many of whom put themselves in harm’s way to help people in more than 191 countries around the globe.
According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the millions of volunteers across the globe are the organization’s beating heart and what defines it. These volunteers help make the world a safer and more peaceful place every single day.
Globally, many Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are working in dangerous conditions helping people in need. Here are some examples of the heroic efforts of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers:
UKRAINE CONFLICT ─ As the armed conflict continues, more than 124,000 volunteers in Ukraine and about 17 host countries are working to provide essential aid to not only the people remaining in the war-torn country, but also to the more than 8 million who have fled Ukraine to seek safety in other countries. In Ukraine, these humanitarians at times are at risk, working in areas close to the frontlines. Earlier this year, a Russian missile strike destroyed a Ukrainian Red Cross warehouse in Odesa. The staff and volunteers of the Ukrainian Red Cross were not injured, but a civilian security guard was killed in the attack.
TURKIYE – SYRIA EARTHQUAKE ─ In February of this year, a catastrophic earthquake struck Turkiye and Syria, causing widespread devastation and thousands of fatalities. Almost 10,000 volunteers from the Turkish Red Crescent, Palestine Red Crescent in Syria and Syrian Arab Red Crescent sprang into action. Many were affected themselves, having lost their homes and loved ones, yet they continued to respond around the clock to provide lifesaving care each day.
SUDAN CONFLICT ─ Since the conflict broke out in Sudan, nearly 3 million people have left their homes to seek safety elsewhere in Sudan or in neighboring countries. More than 1,000 people have lost their lives and more than 12,000 have been injured in the fighting. Tens of thousands of Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers have distributed food, essential household items and critical medical supplies to vulnerable families across the country despite the continued fighting and challenges to their own security.
SEA RESCUES In 2016, the Red Cross Red Crescent network and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) conducted rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Europe. Migrants boarding overcrowded boats and dinghies try to cross to Europe and a better life. When rescued and taken onboard the MOAS ship, a Red Cross Red Crescent team provided post rescue care.
This crisis in the Mediterranean continues to this day. Three times this year, those on board the rescue ships have come under attack from the Libyan Coast Guard. Twice the ships were fired on and during SAR operations of NGO SOS Mediterranée, efforts were made to prevent the small rescue boat carrying refugees and crew from getting back to the larger ship. While all made it to safety onboard the Ocean Viking, some sustained injuries because of the dangerous maneuvers of the Libyan Coast Guard.
Here in the United States, the American Red Cross is supported by as many as 275,000 volunteer humanitarians who give their time to help disaster victims, teach lifesaving classes, donate blood, support members of the military, veterans and their families, and help at-risk communities faced with disaster around the world.
Volunteers represent 90% of the American Red Cross workforce. Join our global network by visiting redcross.org/volunteertoday to sign up for opportunities with your local chapter.