The Red Cross is one of the oldest extant humanitarian organisations in the world, with the largest voluntary membership of any organisation with 100 million members in 170 different countries. It has won the Nobel Peace prize four times
The Red Cross movement was founded by a Swiss man Henri Dunant after the battle of Solferino in Northern Italy, where over 40,000 soldiers died or were wounded. He was appalled by the suffering of the wounded and dying on both sides. He organised local people in to groups to help the wounded regardless of their nationality. This event scared him, and caused him to write the book "A Memory of Solferino" in 1862. He expressed the idea of forming "relief societies for training volunteers to care for the wounded in wartime …based on some international Principle".
In 1863 Henri Dunant and four other citizens of Geneva formed the International Committee of the Red Cross I C R C. The first society was formed in Wurtemburg that year. In 1864 the Geneva Convention for the improvement of the condition of the wounded in armies in the field was formed and by 1867 16 countries had signed up agreeing to it. The movement spread quickly across Europe and America showing the success of Dunants idea. The movement also spread into the Islamic world but they used the emblem of the Red Crescent as they associated the cross with Christian beliefs. The two symbols now have equal status and meaning. In 1901 Henri Dunant was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts.
The Irish Red Cross was set up in 1939. Since its inception the Irish Red Cross has been involved in many projects including in 1945 Organised the first Water Safety Campaign and it set up a hospital in St Ló, France after the Normandy town was bombed. Post World War two it raised £12 Million to help Post War Relief and set up the Freedom from Hunger Campaign which was that developed into Gorta. It went on to set up the first Blood Transfusion Service and opened up two hospitals to prevent the spread of TB. in 1965 the Red Cross launched Old Peoples Year which resulted in the formation of Meals-on-wheels, Home Help and Good Neighbour Service. It has been largely involved in helping Refugees from Hungary (1956), Vietnam (1979), Bahi (1985), Bosnia (1993) & Kosovo (1998). In 2005 it raised over €30 million for the Tsunami Relief Effort.
The Principles of the Red Cross are:
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