Geneva, 5 May 2006
Red Cross Red Crescent Day pays tribute to volunteers
Every year, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement relies on
its unique network of more than 90 million volunteers to provide vital assistance
and support to over 275 million people worldwide.
These humanitarian heroes, who sometimes risk their lives and often make considerable
personal sacrifices in order to help others, deserve the international community's
thanks and recognition for their devotion and tireless efforts.
On 8 May, 2006, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,
the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Movement's 183 National
Societies will celebrate annual World Red Cross Red Crescent Day by paying tribute
to the millions of volunteers who provide universal assistance to people in
"Volunteers are the backbone of our work," said Juan M. Suarez del
Toro, the president of the International Federation. "They symbolize the
power of humanity and without them, we would not be able to carry out our life-saving
emergency activities or fulfill our day-to-day objective of protecting human
Suarez del Toro added that the efforts of each and every volunteer had a "very
real impact" on communities, while the power of their combined efforts
enabled the Movement to "reach beyond borders, bringing help wherever it
The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger,
said that volunteers also played a key role in ensuring humanitarian protection
and assistance for the victims of conflict and armed violence.
"In many dangerous conflicts around the world, the ICRC would find it difficult
to carry out its work to protect and assist civilian victims, help the wounded,
put separated families back together or visit detainees, without the active
support of volunteers. Their local knowledge and involvement, and above all
their courage, often makes the difference," Kellenberger said.
Around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are active in a diverse
range of activities, from alerting the public to the danger of landmines in
Afghanistan to fighting the stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS in
They also regularly come to the aid of millions of people affected by natural
and man-made disasters, such as the Pakistan earthquake, the Darfur crisis and
hurricanes in the Americas, while providing ongoing support to the survivors
of the Asia tsunami.
"Volunteers are the messengers and implementers of our humanitarian mission
to millions of vulnerable people around the world," said Kellenberger and
Suarez del Toro said in a joint statement marking World Red Cross Red Crescent
"They reflect the global diversity of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and
embody the Movement's universal commitment that humanity must prevail in the
face of conflict or catastrophe," they concluded.
For further information, or to set up interviews (ISDN lines
available in Geneva), please contact:
At the International Federation in Geneva:
Sian Bowen, Manager, Media Service Tel: + 41 22 730 4428 / +41
79 217 3388
Anna Nelson, Media Officer Tel: + 41 22 730 4381 / +41 79 724 2046
Media Service, duty phone Tel: + 41 79 416 38 81
At the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva:
Ian Piper, Senior Media Relations Officer Tel: + 41 22
730 2063 / +41 79 217 3216
The International Federation, Red Cross and Red Crescent
National Societies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross together
constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.