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World Red Cross Day celebrated

Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) joined its 183 partner National Societies worldwide and International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation) in celebrating the world Red Cross and Red Crescent Day on May 8.

They celebrated the day remembering the enduring efforts of the International Red Cross Movement to alleviate human suffering worldwide, whether from disease, famine, disaster or war.

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is commemorated each year on the birthday of Henry Dunant, the Swiss philanthropist who founded the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 1863 to help ease the suffering of war victims. In 1859, Dunant witnessed firsthand the painful plight of wounded soldiers during the Battle of Solferino in Italy and became a tireless advocate for humane treatment of the sick and wounded during wartime.

Since the day that Dunant first conceived of the idea of the Red Cross, the Movement grown to become the largest humanitarian aid organisation in the world.

Today 183 countries have Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies, all of which work to promote same mission: to save lives and alleviate suffering in their local communities and around the world. In 1901, the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Dunant in recognition for his service he rendered to alleviate suffering of the vulnerable people.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, subsequently, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1917 and 1944, as tributes to its humanitarian activities during the two World Wars. In 1963, the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies won the prize on the occasion of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's 100th anniversary.

In 1936, a Red Cross Society was set up in Sri Lanka as the central branch of the British Red Cross to assist the government to control the malaria epidemic which prevailed in the country. The society was named as Ceylon Red Cross in 1949 after Sri Lanka gaining the independence. The Ceylon Red Cross was affiliated to the International Federation in 1952.

The Ceylon Red Cross became the Sri Lanka red Cross Society in 1972. Today Sri Lanka Red Cross Society through its network of 26 branches in all districts in the island with a large volunteer base provides humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in our society. SLRCS brings humanitarian assistance to natural or manmade disaster victims, educates young people about HIV/AIDS, attempts to reunite family members separated by the conflict in the country, provides First Aid and organises volunteer blood donation programmes, engages in disaster management, promote primary health care and disseminates humanitarian values throughout the country.

This year the SLRCS through its branches had organised a number of activities under the theme of "Universal Assistance through Volunteerism". The national celebration is organised by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Kurunegala branch which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.



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