150 years of delivering hope and help

Throughout the world, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their International Federation are the ICRC’s natural and preferred partners. © ICRC / M. Kokic / it-e-00078

Throughout the world, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their International Federation are the ICRC’s natural and preferred partners. © ICRC / M. Kokic / it-e-00078

Exactly 150 years ago, on 29 October 1863, the first Conference of what was to become the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement drew to a close, giving rise to the concept of National Societies.

Today, our Movement has 189 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, making it one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world.

Every day, tens of millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers bring hope and help to people in-need across the globe.

For example, here in the United States, when Superstorm Sandy made landfall a year ago and wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard, the American Red Cross mobilized 17,000 trained workers from all over the country in response. A whopping 90 per cent of them were volunteers. Together, they provided more than 17 million meals and snacks and over seven million relief items to the victims of this natural disaster.          

Read more: The American Red Cross has published a new update on its Sandy response

Meanwhile, in situations of armed conflict and extreme violence, such as Syria, volunteers often put their own lives on the line in order to save others. In fact, 22 Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have been killed and many more injured, kidnapped, or detained while carrying out their humanitarian duties.

Read more: A joint Movement statement calling for the protection of aid workers in Syria

It's these kinds of acts of selflessness and sacrifice that embody our Movement and make us so unique. In this striking photo gallery, you'll find further examples of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in-action over the past 150 years – from the Franco-German war in 1870 to present-day operations in places like Colombia, Haiti, and the Philippines. Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Read more: The ICRC's 150 years of humanitarian action website