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Red Cross in Cayman to adopt the Red Crystal

2000px-Flag_of_the_ICRC.svgBecause the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) can be identified with religious groups, the Red Cross have introduced a new emblem the Red Crystal (also called the Red Diamond).

Danielle Coleman, the Cayman Red Cross Disaster Manager, said public perception is very important to them, especially when it came to disaster response. The crystal was introduced to show neutrality. Any thoughts of the movement being perceived as affiliating themselves to a religious movement are not a good thing she said.

The ICRC, established in 1863, works worldwide to provide humanitarian help for people affected by conflict and armed violence and to promote the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it employs some 12,000 people in 80 countries; it is financed mainly by voluntary donations from governments and from national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

The ICRC was founded as a result of the work of Henry Dunant, a Swiss, at the battle of Solferino (1859), where thousands of wounded French, Austrian and Italian soldiers were left without adequate medical care. Dunant’s book – A Memory of Solferino (1862) – led to the adoption of the first Geneva Convention (1864), laying out rules to protect wounded soldiers and medics, and to the creation of relief societies in each country.

article-0-060FBB880000044D-725_468x286These bodies became known as Red Cross Societies, referring to the universal emblem adopted to identify and protect medical units. (The red crescent emblem was introduced in the 1880s.)

Since its foundation, the ICRC has played a humanitarian role in most of the conflicts that have taken place around the world. It has continuously worked to persuade States to expand the legal protection of war victims, to limit suffering.

The ICRC, the national societies and their International Federation form the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. In situations of armed conflict the ICRC coordinates the response by its Movement partners.

The ICRC has a permanent international mandate for its work. This derives from the 1949 Geneva Conventions – agreed to by every State in the world – and from the Statutes of the Movement.

However, the ICRC remains a private organisation governed by Swiss law and strictly independent in its governance and operational decisions. The Committee itself consists of up to 25 co-opted members, all Swiss. The ICRC’s work respects the Movement’s fundamental principles, notably those of neutrality, impartiality and independence.

The ICRC’s annual budget in recent years has been in the region of one billion Swiss francs (USD, EUR…). Its principal donors are governments, regional organisations, national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, municipal authorities, the private sector and members of the public. National societies also make an important contribution in terms of specialized personnel. ICRC accounts are explained every year in the annual report.

More than 1,400 specialized staff and generalists are currently on field missions for the ICRC across the globe. They work with some 11,000 local employees,  supported and coordinated by around 800 staff at its Geneva headquarters. Expatriate staff members can be from countries anywhere in world; the ICRC is an equal opportunities employer.

The ICRC administers various special funds and awards for national societies, to help their work, or to Red Cross workers, either in recognition of their service or to provide practical assistance in case of hardship.

For more information on the IRC go to:

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Calls for Red Cross symbol to be axed over links to the Crusades

By Michael Lea From Daily Mail UK

A Labour minister has sparked controversy by claiming that an alternative symbol is needed for the Red Cross because of the logo’s supposed links to the Crusades.

Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant said that the historic emblem risked undermining the work of the humanitarian organisation.

His intervention came as MPs debated the adoption of the ‘red crystal’ – a diamond-shaped badge – to avoid the religious connotations of the cross and crescent symbols currently used by the international body.

Cross, crescent and crystal: The Red Crystal could be used to protect medical and other relief workers in combat where the Red Cross or Red Crescent are inappropriate.

But critics said the new insignia was a sop to political correctness and warned that it may be the first step towards it replacing cross and crescent. Others fear that it may not be as widely recognised on the battlefield.

‘It is, in an effort not to be contentious, possibly too anodyne to serve its purpose,’ Tory MP John Hayes said.

Philip Davies, a Tory backbencher, said: ‘At face value to the layman it seems at best a solution looking for a problem and at worst another example of extreme political correctness.

‘No one has ever suggested to me that the Red Cross refers to the Crusades.’

Shadow Foreign Office minister David Lidington said that use of the crystal over the cross by the British military should ‘be the exception rather than be allowed to become the norm’.

Tory Oliver Heald said the Red Cross symbol was widely recognised and counselled caution that ‘we are careful not to undermine that’.

‘There is also a risk of confusion with many different symbols, and that terrorists may exploit that to mask themselves when carrying out attacks,’ he added.

The founding Conference of the Red Cross Movement in 1863 adopted a red cross on a white background – the reverse of the Swiss flag – as the emblem of the voluntary medical personnel who assisted the wounded on the battlefield.

It was never intended to have any religious meaning and is thought to have been intended as a tribute to traditionally neutral Switzerland, which hosted the conference.

However, the symbol unintentionally raised suggestions that it was somehow linked to the Hospitallers, a military order which took part in the Crusades, the centuries long series of military campaigns waged by Christians from Europe.

Subsequently, a red crescent emblem was adopted in tandem.

Mr Bryant told the Commons: ‘The reference to the Crusades is… not lost to some people which, of course, anybody involved in the Red Cross would wholly deprecate.

‘The truth of the matter is that it has been difficult in some places for us to ensure that these connotations of a religious war or a religious crusade don’t undermine the work that the Red Cross or Red Crescent is able to do.’

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement hope that the neutrality of the red crystal will help improve protection for casualties, military medical services and humanitarian workers.

It was chosen because it is devoid of religious and other partisan connotations.

A treaty which established the red crystal as an additional protective symbol became part of international law in 2006.

It will now receive the same status in UK law as the red cross and red crescent under the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill passed today.

The impartial movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network made up of almost 97million volunteers, supporters, and staff in 186 countries.

Leigh Daynes, spokesman for the British Red Cross, said: ‘The British Red Cross strongly supports acceptance of the Red Crystal emblem.

It would give another option for the protection of humanitarian workers, as well as for the medical services of the armed forces, in situations where use of the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblems might be misunderstood.

‘In these circumstances, the Red Crystal would make our workers and the medical services of the armed forces safer. The British Red Cross will continue to use the Red Cross emblem, which, after more than a century, has served us well.’

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