The Red Cross and Red Crescent

Authored by: Mukesh Kapila

The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415844420
eBook ISBN: 9780203753422
Adobe ISBN: 9781135013936


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The paradox at the core of the Red Cross Red Crescent is that it is, simultaneously, an ideal and an institution. The myths that surround it are as potent in their influence as the impact that comes from what it does in practice. The Red Cross was born from the noblest of intents. But it is fated to operate in the basest of circumstances where the worst cruelties of man and nature are manifested. It is perceived as a global public good but its real benefit is ultimately realized at an individual level. It has been costed as one of the most valuable brands in the world but the actual value of its work defies meaningful quantification. The physical symbols and structures of the Red Cross Red Crescent are seen in countless neighbourhoods across the world, but its invisible presence in the hearts and minds of people is what really sustains it.

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