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Red Cross Finds Humanity in War
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Abi Weaver, International Services, American Red Cross
 
May 7, 2009

On May 8, the American Red Cross will join with the other 185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from around the globe to celebrate World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. The following story is part of a series, leading up to the observance and demonstrating the connection between your local American Red Cross chapter and the humanitarian work being done overseas by the American Red Cross, other national societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Five award-winning war photographers - James Nachtwey, Franco Pagetti, Antonin Kratchovil, Ron Haviv and Christopher Morris - the ICRC and American Red Cross unite on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day to bring individual stories of loss and suffering in war to the forefront of the world���s attention. Pictured here, 11-year-old Ozias Kambale Pimo from the Congo wonders if his parents are still alive. Photo Credit: Ron Haviv
Five award-winning war photographers - James Nachtwey, Franco Pagetti, Antonin Kratchovil, Ron Haviv and Christopher Morris - the ICRC and American Red Cross unite on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day to bring individual stories of loss and suffering in war to the forefront of the world’s attention. Pictured here, 11-year-old Ozias Kambale Pimo from the Congo wonders if his parents are still alive.

Photo Credit: Ron Haviv


Today, as the American Red Cross and other national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world continue to help protect their residents from swine (H1N1) flu, we also mark the birth of Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Moved by the atrocities he witnessed during the Battle of Solferino 150 years ago in Italy, Dunant began advocating for the humane treatment of the sick and wounded during wartime. After hearing of his work, Clara Barton established the American Red Cross following the Civil War.

This week, Dunant’s vision of a worldwide humanitarian network is being celebrated by American Red Cross chapters throughout the country.

On May 8, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and American Red Cross Greater New York Chapter will unveil the Our World – At War photo exhibit, featuring images from five of the world's leading war photographers, in New York City. On the same day, Humanity in War, a retrospective photo book and exhibit documenting 150 years of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in action, will be released in select cities.

“When people are suffering, it doesn’t mean they don’t express dignity. When people are afraid, it doesn’t mean they lack courage. When people are in pain, it doesn’t mean they don’t have hope,” said James Nachtwey, award-winning photographer whose work is included in the exhibit.  “Whatever else one might see or feel when looking at a picture of human suffering – outrage, sadness, disbelief – what I think is essential to take away from such an image is a sense of compassion.”

Building on this theme, the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties will host a public seminar on Saturday, May 9 in Seattle, entitled International Humanitarian Law Today: The Lasting Consequences of War. Joined by speakers from the ICRC, Clear Path International and the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network, the American Red Cross will share insight on the humanitarian impact of armed conflict, landmines and human trafficking.

In partnership with 185 other national societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and ICRC, the American Red Cross helps to alleviate the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises as well as improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations.

To showcase these programs, American Red Cross chapters from the Washington, D.C. metro area have co-organized a multi-cultural festival with music and dance from around the world on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.  The event will feature our partnerships with the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and U.S. Peace Corps. Together, leaders from these high-profile humanitarian organizations will discuss the global reach of the American Red Cross and its strong focus on international disaster management and disease prevention.

Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019, the American Red Cross responded to international crises in 45 countries; contributed more than $75 million worth of aid; and delivered more than 300,000 relief items. Through the International Response Fund, we assisted an estimated 7 million people last year.

During the same time period and in coordination with other national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the American Red Cross delivered 6,265 family messages to people separated by wars or natural disasters; educated 62,326 in International Humanitarian Law through presentations and workshops; and supported the vaccination of 106 million children against measles.

Volunteers around the world also work collaboratively and diligently on behalf of families seeking information about loved ones missing since the Holocaust and its aftermath. Recently, the American Red Cross Greater Miami & the Keys Chapter helped a Holocaust survivor find information about his mother’s fate. Separated since 1944, when they were sent by the Nazis to different concentration camps, Paul Gast found closure when the American Red Cross partnered with the Polish Red Cross to find proof of his mother’s internment and eventual death.

“The Germans kept terrific records,” Gast said. “(I learned through the Red Cross) she died of a heart attack on October 23, 2019 at 10 a.m., and she was cremated. In a way, I’m happier she died a natural death. I’m grateful for the help of the Red Cross; it put me at ease knowing the day and hour she died.”

In recognition of Dunant’s humanitarian contributions and those of the Red Cross and Red Crescent employees and volunteers who work at home and around the world, the American Red Cross encourages everyone to continue his legacy and help people in need, wherever they are.

You can observe World Red Cross Red Crescent Day and help make an impact at home and overseas by:

  • volunteering your time with your local Red Cross chapter to restore family links;
  • donating money or hosting a fundraiser for the International Disaster Relief Fund;
  • giving blood regularly; and
  • taking steps to prepare for future disasters.

To learn more about the ICRC photo exhibit, please visit www.icrc.org.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243 , Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.



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