What is Red Cross and how was it Born?

The Red Cross is an international humanitarian organization. Initially, its field of activity was confined to look after soldiers wounded in war, but later it broadened its activity to include the alleviation of all forms of human suffering. Almost all the countries of the world have branches of the Red Cross, which work during both war and peace. It serves people regardless of race, color, creed, caste or nationality.

            During peacetime, its activities are to give first aid, to prevent accidents, to provide safe drinking water, to train nurses and midwives, to look after maternity and child welfare centers, to establish hospitals, to set up blood banks etc. this organization is a friend of all humanity.

            The story of the origin of Red Cross is very interesting. The founder of this organization was jean Henry Dunant, a Swiss banker. On June 24, 1859, he had gone to the city of Lombardy (North Italy) in connection with his business.

            At that time, Lombardy was the focal point of the ‘Battle of Selferino’ between the French and Austrians. Thousands of men and women were injured in the war and many of them lay dying for want of first aid.

            The heartrending sight had a great impact of his mind. He forgot his own work and organized the local villagers to look after the injured of both sides in the battle. His efforts saved many lives.

            In 1862, Dunant wrote a book titled ‘A Memory of Solferino’ , in which he appealed to the people of the world so form special relief societies. The soldier’s wounded in war were helpless people and as human beings, it was the duty of all to help them. This appeal had a great impact on the people and at the international conference held in Geneva in 1864; sixteen countries accepted the idea of making of the Red Cross.

            The flag of Switzerland had a whit cross against red background. Changing it, a red cross against a white background, was the name and flag given to this organization. In Muslim countries the sign is a red crescent. Thus, Red Cross came into existence. A red cross became the emblem of this international organization that works to relieve suffering caused by natural disasters, etc. and to help the victim of war.

            The Red Cross has three organs. The first is the international committee of Red Cross. It is an independent committee of twenty five citizens of Switzerland. Its main office is situated in Geneva. The second organ is the league of the Red Cross societies, and the third is the national Red Cross societies.

            During wars, the international committee of Red Cross works as an intermediary between the national Red Cross societies and the countries involved in the wars. It looks after the prisoners of war in their camps and arranges relief for them. It takes care of their mails and establishes contact with their relatives.

            This organization also serves the people affected by cyclones, epidemics, famines, etc.