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Who we are


The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) was established more than 150 years ago, in 1859. Its founder, the Swiss citizen Henry Dunant, helped wounded soldiers at the battle of Solferino and then promoted his ideas about providing relief for the sick and wounded in wartime. This led to the creation of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and international humanitarian law.

A member of the ICRC/Haitian Red Cross tracing
team talks with an unaccompanied child in order
to find his family (Port-au-Prince)
© ICRC/MILTCHEVA, Olga
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

The Movement is today the largest humanitarian network in the world. Its mission is to alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found, to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings, particularly during armed conflicts and in other emergencies. The Movement is present in every country in the world and is supported by millions of volunteers.

The Movement is not a single organization. It is composed of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (the Federation).

Each component has its own legal identity and role, but all are united by seven Fundamental Principles. These principles are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.

The Family Links Network

Since the Movement first took shape, helping people who have become separated from their loved ones or who are without news of them has grown to be one of our main activities. This work is referred to as Restoring Family Links. Within the Movement, these activities are carried out by the Family Links Network.

By adopting in 2007 the Restoring Family Links Strategy (2008-2018), the Movement has reaffirmed its commitment to respond efficiently and effectively to the needs of people seeking news of family members from whom they have become separated as a result of armed conflict, other situations of violence, disasters, migration or other situations requiring a humanitarian response.

The Family Links Network is composed of all Restoring Family Links services of National Societies in the various countries and the Central Tracing Agency of the ICRC at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Central Tracing Agency supports and coordinates the work of the Family Links Network.

We work as a global network that applies the same principles and working methods in every country and cooperates across borders and lines of combat. At the same time, we operate as a local network that understands the specific needs of each community and provides a response through its staff and volunteers. This allows us to help and follow up on separated families all over the world in a way unparalleled by any other humanitarian organization.


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