World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day was observed on Friday (May 8) to protect human life and health and to prevent and alleviate human suffering.

The Day is an annual celebration of the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The date is the anniversary of the birth of Henry Dunant (born 8th May 1828), the founder of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide. Prior to this observance and following the end of the First World War, there had been an initiative known as the ‘Red Cross Truce’. Initially this was a three day truce in former Czechoslovakia which took place during Easter time.

At that time, there was general consensus that people wanted peace following years of fighting. The Red Cross Truce led the way for a global peace initiative to be introduced. After the Second World War, and following approval by the Red Cross Executive Committee, the proposal for a worldwide peace day was accepted.

The movement consists of several distinct organizations that are legally independent from each other, but are united within the movement through common basic principles, objectives, symbols, statutes and governing organizations. The first Red Cross & Red Crescent Day was held in 1948 on the 8th of May. Each year, Red Cross & Red Crescent Day is supported by Red Cross organizations around the world.

The day is meant to inspire, facilitate and also promote all humanitarian activities that are carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and National Societies which are its members. This is the day when members of the international Red Cross movement raise the need in assisting suffering people. People are reminded of the need of protecting their lives as well as the dignity of the victims of any armed conflicts and all situations of violence.

The provision of a blood collection agency is a main focus of The Red Cross and Red Crescent. People are encouraged to support the Red Cross by donating blood.

The work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent also includes first aid, emergency response, health and social care, preparing for disasters, refugee services and helping people find missing families. 

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