The American Red Cross is joined by its chapters around the country and its partners around the world to celebrate World Red Cross Red Crescent Day on May 8. United by a global network of 97 million volunteers and 185 National Societies – all sharing a commitment to assist the most vulnerable -- the International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Movement) recognizes this day as an annual reminder of the lasting work and commitment of the Red Cross family.
World Red Cross Red Crescent Day
May 8 marks the birth of Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Moved by the atrocities he witnessed during the Battle of Solferino in 1859, Dunant began advocating for the humane treatment of the sick and wounded during wartime. Four years later, Dunant founded the ICRC in an effort to alleviate human suffering, ultimately leading to the formation of the Movement. Today, the Movement is the largest humanitarian network in the world and assists more than 233 million people worldwide each year.
"With long-standing partnerships with organizations worldwide and a strong global network, the Red Cross is uniquely positioned to save lives and provide assistance to those affected by crises," said David Meltzer, Senior Vice President of International Servcies. "The American Red Cross will continue to build partnerships to address global health concerns and meet humanitarian challenges."
Over the past year, volunteers from the American Red Cross responded to hundreds of disasters in local communities and around the world. Whether providing shelter after a house fire, landslide, tornado or hurricane; or immunizing millions of children against measles and providing bed nets to prevent malaria, the American Red Cross works with its partner organizations to help prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters, both natural and man-made.
In 2006, the American Red Cross responded to 23 international disasters by contributing more than $16 million in financial support, deploying delegates and providing relief supplies to millions affected by disasters. In addition, the American Red Cross continues to help affected communities recover from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. To date, the American Red Cross and its partners have assisted more than 3.3 million people through relief and recovery programs and more than 80.4 million people through disease control activities.
Gina Guinta of the American Red Cross worked with the International Federation to help people in Mozambique recover from recent typhoons and floods.
As a partner in both international relief efforts and health campaigns, the American Red Cross endeavors to make a global impact through life-saving programs like the Measles Initiative. Since 2001, the American Red Cross and its partners in the Measles Initiative, which include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, have vaccinated more than 372 million children in 48 countries against measles. The Measles Initiative has helped achieve a remarkable 75 percent reduction in the number of measles deaths in Africa, and a 60 percent reduction worldwide since 1999.
Building on this success, the American Red Cross and its partners are expanding measles vaccination campaigns to Asia and other regions around the world with the goal of reducing measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010.
Together with its Movement partners, the American Red Cross is also working to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Nigeria, Tanzania and Russia. The American Red Cross is also increasing its efforts in the fight against malaria by providing bed nets to children in Africa and educating families how to properly use nets. Later this year, the American Red Cross and its partners will help distribute more than 1.3 million bed nets in Madagascar, as well as in other high-risk regions.
The American Red Cross also continues to help alleviate the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international emergencies, and works with other Red Cross National Societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. Each day, volunteers from the American Red Cross disseminate essential information on International Humanitarian Law and reunite individuals through its family tracing program.
On World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, the American Red Cross and its partners come together and renew their commitment to helping the world’s most vulnerable people – in the United States and across the globe.
As part of the world's largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross alleviates the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises, and works with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. We reconnect families separated by emergencies and educate the American public about international humanitarian law. This assistance is made possible through the generosity of the American public.