Alleviating suffering, in war and in peace
The vision of
humane society caring for in need, regardless of race, colour of creed
first took form in the mind of Henri
Dunant more than 125 years ago.
Dunant was 31 when he came upon the scene of a
great battle while travelling through Italy.
It was the battle of Solferino.
The Slaughter, the suffering and anguish of the
wounded and maimed,
the sorry plight of prisoners of war moved
Finding a lack of medical assistance, he set to
work with the help of village women and children.
Some, when faced with wounded enemy soldiers,
were reluctant to help.
But Dunant implored them, saying in Italian
"tutti fratteli", which means "all men are brothers".
Three years later, Dunant published his famous
book "A Memory of Solferino".
In this, he asked if it was not possible to
form a voluntary society to care for the victims of war.
His idea spread throughout Europe and quickly
gained the support of some prominent Swiss citizens.
This was the famous "Committee of Five", the
founders of the Red Cross
who later formed the International Committee of
the Red Cross.
Although the Red Cross was born out of the
anguish and suffering of war,
it was soon realised that such a movement could
also play an equally important role in times of peace.
Serving around the world
Soon after World War 1, the league of Red Cross
Societies was formed in Paris
to assist in the improvement of health,
prevention of disease, and relief from suffering in peace and in war.
Today, the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent movement is at work in 149 countries.
The emblem of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is
universally recognised as a pledge of neutrality and impartiality. More
important, it stands as a beacon of hope and solace in times of unrest, disaster
That it has come to mean as such is not by
It owes itself to the great humanitarian spirit
of Henri Dunant and
the millions of people around the world who
believe in it.