Red Cross is a term commonly used to refer to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a non-governmental, non-political, non-religious worldwide humanitarian organization that works for the protection of human life & health, alleviation of human suffering, assistance of people in crisis and safeguarding of human dignity. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and works through a network of employees, volunteers, and donors.
The movement includes a number of distinct and legally independent humanitarian institutions that are bound by a shared ideology and common objectives. These include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that was founded in 1863 to provide protection and care to the victims of international wars and within country armed conflicts; the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that are present in almost all countries; and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that coordinates the activities of these societies and also organizes and leads relief missions in response to major emergencies anywhere in the world. Though the Red Cross movement was started for providing medical aid to those injured on the battlefield, it has widened its scope over the years. Today, it also extends emergency medical services to strengthen the national healthcare systems and also extends many other humanitarian services.
The term ‘Red Cross’ also refers to the emblem of the movement. This symbol, consisting of a red-colored cross placed on a white background, can easily be called the world’s most recognized image. It represents the medical services, people, humanitarian activities and programs of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The highly respected Red Cross emblem is internationally recognized as a symbol of protection, humanitarian aid, and neutrality.