Some Red Cross facts for World Red Cross Day

The information in this blog has been updated as of May 6, 2015

May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day celebrating the good work the Movement does every day around the world.

An aerial shot of Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers wearing red shirts, in the formation of the Red Cross cross

Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers

Why is today World Red Cross Red Crescent Day? Well, it is the birthday of Henry Dunant, the Swiss businessman who came up with the idea of the Red Cross Movement after seeing the horrors on the battlefield during the Battle of Solferino in 1859 in Italy. And, if you are thinking that the Red Cross flag looks like an inverted Swiss flag, well it is. Dunant designed the flag as homage to his homeland.

Other interesting facts*:

  • There are currently 189 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
  • The Red Cross is one of the world’s most recognized symbols
  • The Movement's 189 National Societies represent 97 million of volunteers. About half are youth volunteers.
  • Around 50 per cent of the Movement's volunteers are women.
  • National Societies programs and services address both immediate and long-term needs and include: emergency response, disaster preparedness, community-based health and care, first aid training and activities, restoring family contact for disaster victims, and youth and volunteer activities.
  • The Red Cross has won the Nobel Peace Prize FOUR times 1917, 1944, and 1963 as well as in the award to Henry Dunant (1901),
  • The Canadian Red Cross was established in 1909 when the Federal Government passed the Canadian Red Cross Society Act
  • In Canada, the Red Cross has 34,000 volunteers. Amazing!

To learn more about the work of the Red Cross worldwide, visit the International Federation of  Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) web site.

* Some of these facts are from www.ifrc.org

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