Station: [3] The worldwide network

Red Cross workers are part of a worldwide network. They provide international relief in war and during natural disasters. What’s less well known is that they help people to trace relatives who have gone missing in wars or as refugees. And very few indeed realise that around 20,000 employees of the International Red Cross advocate for almost half a million political detainees and prisoners of war, wherever they are incarcerated. 

Nelson Mandela once said:

“Not only does the Red Cross hold a special place in our collective sense of ourselves as a globally caring community; to me personally, and those who shared the experience of being political prisoners, the Red Cross was a beacon of humanity within the dark inhumane world of political imprisonment.“

Looking at the display panels – perhaps you’re surprised to see all the different protection symbols and logos. The red cross is the original emblem. The red crescent was first used in 1876, during the Russian-Turkish War. The Turkish government was concerned that the red cross might offend their soldiers’ religious sensibilities. Today, the national societies in most predominantly Islamic countries use the red crescent symbol. 

The red crystal only originated in 2005. It’s a compromise in response to repeated calls for additional protection symbols. 

But whether Red Cross, Red Crescent or Red Crystal makes no difference. Anyone wearing an armband with one of those protection symbols in a war zone is a protected person and must not be attacked. 


Foto: © Rotkreuz Museum