The Red Cross

Flag of the Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross (also called “ICRC” for short) is an organization that helps people around the world. The roots of the ICRC go back to 1859, when a Swiss businessman named Henry Dunant watched a battle while traveling in Italy. After the battle ended, Mr. Dunant was shocked to see the wounded and dying soldiers left on the battlefield. Almost no one could help the dying soldiers. The suffering was terrible and tragic. Mr. Dunant tried to organize some assistance. He asked the local people to care for the wounded and dying soldiers.

After he returned home to Switzerland, Mr. Dunant wrote to the leaders of Europe. He told them what he had seen in Italy. He urged them to create an organization that could help the wounded in times of war. Mr. Dunant also formed a committee of friends, doctors, and lawyers. They organized a conference in October, 1863. Governments from around Europe sent their representatives to the conference. By the end of it, they all agreed to help provide for better care to those wounded in wars.  People who would help the wounded would also be protected. They would wear a white armband with a red cross to clearly show that they were neutral.

In 1864, Mr. Dunant and his committee held another conference. This time, representatives of governments outside of Europe came too. They signed an agreement that listed 10 rules (called “articles”). This guaranteed that all wounded soldiers would be treated with respect and dignity, even in times of war. This list of articles later became known as The Geneva Convention. Eventually, Mr. Dunant’s organization became known as The International Committee of the Red Cross. It still exists today and it has helped millions of people around the world.

Did you enjoy this lesson? Then why not try this lesson on Hounds for Heroes or this one about Girl Scouts?