by Catherine Carlton, American Red Cross Volunteer Contributor
In honor of yesterday’s International Day of Friendship, the Red Cross recognizes its Global Red Cross network of friends: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies spread around the world.
These organizations are founded by and partnered with community-based, humanitarians who volunteer to help those in need when they need it most. They respond to all crisis, whether it be a disaster, public health emergency or social program. The care of their more than 80 million members, volunteers and supporters reaches across the globe providing aid to those affected by both natural and man-made disasters. Often the first ones on the scene and last ones to leave, these societies demonstrate what true friendship is all about.
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. During times of conflict, the ICRC is responsible for directing and coordinating the Movement’s international relief activities. Whether visiting prisons, organizing relief operations, reuniting separated families or undertaking other humanitarian activities during armed conflicts, this organization strives to be the friend providing care whenever and wherever it is needed.
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network that reaches 150 million people in 190 National Societies through the work of over 17 million volunteers. Together, the IFRC network acts before, during and after natural and man-made disasters, including health emergencies, to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. They do so without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. They also support programs on risk reduction and fighting the spread of diseases, such as HIV, tuberculosis, avian influenza and malaria to help prevent disasters before they occur.
There are 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, with more currently being formed. This unique network forms the backbone of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Each National Society is made up of volunteers and staff who provide a wide variety of services, ranging from disaster relief and assistance for the victims of war, to first aid training and restoring family links.
National Societies support the public authorities in their own countries as independent auxiliaries to the government in the humanitarian field. Their local knowledge and expertise, access to communities, and infrastructure enable the Movement to get the right kind of help where it’s needed, fast.
These three partners, truly define friendship and are helping to make a difference around the world. Today and every day, we celebrate their friendship and the friendships they make within their communities.