On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 2019, the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) came together to pledge better disaster preparedness and rehabilitation services.

RK Jain, Secretary General, IRCS, speaking at the IRCS national headquarters in Delhi, stated that India has witnessed two natural disasters in less than a year and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has many milestones to achieve. He said, “the appreciation received for the management of these disasters should inspire us to perform better, making sure that the next time relief items reach people before such disasters have struck.”

Echoing this, Yves Heller, Head of the Regional Delegation, ICRC, congratulated everyone for their hard work and reiterated, “with the increase in the number of natural disasters around the world, the role of the RCRC Movement will only become more important.” As the theme for World Red Cross Day 2019 was ‘#love’, Marwan Jilani, the newly-appointed Head of Country Cluster Support Team for India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan & the Maldives, IFRC, said he loves being part of the wonderful network of people who provide relief to those in need.

The Movement partners took the opportunity to discuss international humanitarian law (IHL), particularly the Red Cross emblem. Across the globe, the Red Cross and its associated emblems, the Red Crescent and the Red Crystal, signify hope and humanity. On this day, the discussions focussed on the importance of the emblem as it helps position the principles of the Movement – the most significant one being the principle of neutrality.

Due to the universal recognition and appeal of the Red Cross emblem, its misuse is a common occurrence around the world even though it could amount to perfidy. The matter is of grave concern since the strong network of humanitarian workers depends on the acceptance of the emblem to carry out its activities. Anuradha Saibaba, Head of the Legal Division, ICRC, explained that India too has struggled with this issue even though the principles of emblem protection are explicitly mentioned in the 1960 Geneva Conventions Act. India was the first country in the region to adopt these specific implementing legislations through the Act. IRCS Secretary General RK Jain stated that an awareness campaign must be formulated to safeguard the emblem that works to alleviate the suffering of millions around the world.

IRCS will commemorate 100 years of service in 2020. To celebrate the achievement, RK Jain unveiled the centenary celebrations logo – selected through an India-wide logo design competition – created by Kancharapu Rajesh, a student from Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh.