Yesterday, World Red Cross Day, marked the birthday of Henri Dunant, who founded the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland. More than 150 years later, the global movement is well positioned to provide relief to people in distress and desolation because of war, food shortages, epidemic diseases or natural calamities.
For the SA Red Cross Society, the day was an annual reminder to emulate and uphold the fundamental principles of the humanitarian movement - humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, universality and unity.
The organisation recently sent teams of disaster relief experts and community volunteers to assess the damage caused by floods in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
“Our core programmes in South Africa are disaster risk reduction and relief, health and care, first aid, peer education, support to orphans and vulnerable children, psycho-social support and care for the elderly,” said the organisation.
“Love and charity are powerful means to help alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, and to supplement public services in health care, education and housing.
“It also promotes the rights of the marginalised and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations.”
It said disaster response teams from SA Red Cross branches around the country were trained and equipped to assist vulnerable communities with emergency first-aid services at voting stations and transport services for the elderly.
“Red Cross staff and volunteers are also on standby near hot spots where potential election violence may arise,” said the Red Cross.