10 Things You Didn't Know About the International Red Cross

The network has come to the rescue in the wake of Haiti’s earthquake.

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1. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world's largest humanitarian network. It includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the societies in 186 member countries.

2. Henry Dunant, a Swiss man, came up with the Red Cross concept in 1859. In 1863, he and four other men in Geneva established the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded.

3. Dunant's organization was later renamed the Red Cross to reflect its emblem, which is the reverse of the Swiss flag.

4. Disaster response makes up the largest portion of the IFRC's work, but it also is committed to disaster preparedness and health and community care.

5. The network raised just above $3 billion for relief for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami victims.

6. From 2004 through 2008, 51 percent of the disasters to which the IFRC responded were weather related.

7. In 2008 alone, the IFRC responded to 623 disasters worldwide.

8. The network has more than 97 million staff, volunteers, and supporters.

9. The IFRC has its own Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, totaling $15 million per year, to use for pre-emptive action. The rest of the organization's funding is raised in response to specific events.

10. The IFRC initially released about $500,000 in aid for Haiti's recent disaster and has since launched an appeal to raise $10 million for relief.

Sources: ifrc.org