The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) celebrates its 150th anniversary on Sunday, a century and a half of providing humanitarian assistance in the most dangerous places on earth.
The ICRC was founded by Henri Dunant, Geneva businessman, in 1863 to provide relief to injured soldiers returning from the battlefield of Solferino in northern Italy.
Since then the organisation has expanded massively and now employs over 13,000 people in 92 countries.
"This anniversary provides us with an opportunity to look critically at our past, and also to develop awareness of the strengths that have helped us in our activities carried out for millions of victims of armed conflict and other violence," said Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC.
"Now more than ever, we must not only remain true to our principles but also search for new ways to better serve the people who need help.
"We must redouble our efforts to make sure that the neutral, impartial and independent nature of our humanitarian activities is understood by all."
The ICRC, underpinned by the Geneva Conventions, has a mandate to protect victims of conflict as well as assisting victims of natural disasters.
Maurer adds: "The vision of Henry Dunant – the Red Cross idea – has not only survived but flourished through all these long years.
"Over the past century and a half, the ICRC has overcome political adversity, financial difficulty, cultural barriers and countless other obstacles, even attacks on its own staff to bring vitally needed humanitarian assistance and protection to people in need."
The ICRC has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on three separate occasions in 1917, 1944, and 1963.
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