Wednesday, 13 April 2011

History Of Red Cross

Joan Cockburn spoke on the history of Red Cross in New Zealand
On 24 June 1859, during the War of Italian Unification, Franco-Sardinian forces clashed with Austrian troops near the small town of Solferino in northern Italy.

On that day, businessman Henry Dunant, of Switzerland, was travelling to the area to meet Napoleon III on personal matters. On the evening of the battle, Dunant arrived in the village of Castiglione, where more than 9,000 wounded had taken refuge. In the main church, the Chiesa Maggiore, where thousands were lying unattended, Dunant and the local women strove for several days and nights to give them water, wash and dress their wounds and hand out tobacco, tea and fruit.

In 1862 Dunant published a work entitled A Memory of Solferino. In it he proposed two ideas for alleviating the suffering of wounded soldiers - the creation of relief societies in each country that would act as auxiliaries to the army medical services, and a legal basis that would oblige armies to care for all wounded whichever side they were on.

The Geneva Public Welfare Society established a committee to consider ways of putting Dunants ideas into practice. It met for the first time on 17 February 1863, with Dunant as secretary. The other members were General Guillaume-Henri Dufour, the lawyer Gustave Moynier, and Drs Louis Appia and Theodore Maunoir.

In October of that year this committee, later to become the International Committee of the Red Cross, organised a conference, inviting governments, organisations and prominent individuals to attend. The conference led directly to the creation of the first national relief bodies whose members were to wear an armlet showing a red cross on a white ground.

At the urging of the Geneva Committee, the Swiss government hosted an official diplomatic conference in August 1864. This resulted in the adoption of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field.

In a relatively short time, both of Dunants proposals had been actioned. By 1914 the International Committee of the Red Cross had gained field experience and the Geneva Convention had been adapted to cover warfare at sea.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was founded in 1919 in Paris in the aftermath of the First World War.

The war had shown a need for close cooperation between Red Cross Societies, which, through their humanitarian activities on behalf of prisoners of war and combatants, had attracted millions of volunteers and built a large body of expertise.
In 1931 when Hawke's Bay big earhquake struck, the Red Cross played a huge part in helping those injured, supplying food and temporary housing and even in the cleanup and rebuilding.

It was Henry Davison, president of the American Red Cross War Committee, who proposed forming a federation of these National Societies. An international medical conference initiated by Davison resulted in the birth of the League of Red Cross Societies, which was renamed in October 1983 to the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and then in November 1991 to become the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The first objective of the Federation was to improve the health of people in countries that had suffered greatly during the four years of war. Its goals were to strengthen and unite, for health activities, already-existing Red Cross Societies and to promote the creation of new Societies.

The International Federation manages or supports programmes in more than 150 countries. These programmes assist millions of the worlds most vulnerable people, including victims of natural and other disasters, refugees and displaced people and those affected by socio-economic problems.

New Zealand Red Cross has been part of the fabric of our country for over 80 years.

Whether delivering meals on wheels, providing assistance in the aftermath of natural disasters at home and overseas, or training kiwis in first aid skills, New Zealand Red Cross works to assist communities in need.

In 1931, the New Zealand Red Cross Society was formed in the wake of the Napier earthquake and was officially recognised by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Even before 1931, Red Cross had a presence in New Zealand, as a branch of the British Red Cross Society.

Community groups raised money and sewing circles were formed to provide warm clothes and bandages for New Zealand and allied servicemen during the First World War. These early groups unified in 1914 to form the New Zealand Branch of the British Red Cross and Order of St John. These New Zealand Red Cross volunteers provided significant support and relief during the First World War, the 1918 influenza pandemic, the Napier earthquake, the Second World War and the Tangiwai disaster.

Since the first introduction of Red Cross to New Zealand the work of the organisation has come a long way and played an integral part in the history of our country.

After 80 years New Zealand Red Cross continues to help out around the world and across the street.

our emblem

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement now recognises three emblems - the red cross, red crescent and the red crystal. The Red Crystal is the most recent emblem, having been accepted in December 2005 at the organisations International Conference in Geneva.

The three emblems are symbols of protection to both military and civilian medical services in wartime, conferred by the Geneva Conventions to protect against the violence and arbitrary behaviours of armed conflict. They indicate to combatants that individuals, infrastructure and modes of transportation engaged in the provision of medical assistance are protected under the Geneva Conventions.

When employed as a protective device, the emblems should evoke in combatants a reflex of restraint and respect. During peacetime the emblems act as the distinctive indicator of National Societies, individuals, objects or infrastructure linked to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

our Fundamental Principles
•Voluntary Service

New Zealand Red Cross shares our Fundamental Principles with 185 other National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. Across this vast geographic and cultural diversity, almost a hundred million members and volunteers share the seven common principles, which guide us in all that we do

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