Red Cross celebrates 150th anniversary

The world’s oldest aid organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, is marking its 150th anniversary today.

Since its inception, the ICRC has brought relief to the victims of war, bringing help to the destitute, visiting prisoners, uniting families.

It was founded in 1863 in response to the suffering witnessed at the Battle of Solferino by Geneva businessman Henri Dunant.

Today, it says it faces challenges not foreseen in the original Geneva conventions – new weapons such as drones, conflicts like that in Syria with multiple armed groups and shifting frontlines.

Despite the complexities and chaos of 21st-century warfare, the ICRC says its basic principles of impartiality, of bringing relief to anyone suffering in war, will not change.

“New weapons come into conflict, new type of actors come into conflict theatres,” said ICRC president Peter Maurer.

“We see conflicts when one convoy has to overcome 35 road blocks before the convoy gets to the neighbourhoods where food and medicine can be distributed.”

The ICRC has more than 95 million volunteers and staff around the world and has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times.

see also ICRC website:

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