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Community & Business

20 May, 2023

Special day for Red Cross on founder’s birthday

Gilgandra Red Cross are holding a very special morning tea next week.

By Supplied

This is because, each year, this date is marked as “World Red Cross Red Crecent Day”, by the the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Day is designed to highlight the role of the organisation and its staff and volunteers in saving lives and assisting vulnerable communities around the world.

The day was chosen for that of the birthday of the group’s founder, Henri Dunant. The Red Cross actually came into being one afternoon in 1859 in northern Italy, when a Swiss banker, Henri Dunant, carried-out what we would now regard as the first Red Cross action in caring for the wounded.

Dunant had arrived at Solferino in northern Italy the day of a fierce battle, and saw 40,000 men lying dead, dying, or injured where they had fallen. As the respective armies’ medical corps were overwhelmed and able to assist only a very few, Dunant knew that something had to be done to alleviate the terrible suffering he was witnessing.

He organised local civilians and the women from the nearby town of Catiglione to care for the wounded and to care firstly for those most in need, regardless of rank or nationality which, in those days, was a most unusual step. He thus carried out his work in an impartial and neutral manner.

This experience spurred Dunant on to try to think of a way to train volunteer medical teams during peace-time so that, during wars, they would be available to care for the wounded.

The Geneva Public Welfare Society then took an interest in Durant’s idea, and set-up a committee to look at ways to put the idea into action. It was called the “Committee of Five” and consisted of Henry Dunant, plus four others.

This committee organised an international diplomatic conference in Geneva, where initially 12 countries signed the historic first Geneva Convention, which is now the basis of Red Cross in action in international law.

And this is why, some 160 years after the Battle of Solferino, Henri’s simple act of kindness led to there being a Red Cross or Red Crescent Society in 192 countries across the globe today.

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