World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day: 8 May is a chance to celebrate and commemorate

Mexican volunteer Lupita González sits on her vehicle near the Mexican/US border

Mexican volunteer Lupita González sits on her vehicle near the Mexican/US border

Photo: Susana Arroyo Barrantes / IFRC

This Wednesday, 8 May, is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Sixteen million volunteers and staff across our network will reflect on 12 months of activity with a mix of appreciation, admiration and sadness.  

The year since 8 May 2023 has seen incredible efforts across all 191 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The five short stories below give a flavour of what volunteers have done.   

But the last 12 months have also been ones of profound sadness. Our network has lost 30 people who died on duty since last 8 May. Since the beginning of the Israel/Palestine conflict, 22 people have been killed (18 from the Palestine Red Crescent Society, 4 from Magen David Adom in Israel). That’s the highest total from a single ‘cause’ since IFRC record-keeping began. The other 8 deaths were of volunteers in Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Iran. The IFRC put together a short tribute video in mid-April honouring those killed up to then.   

This year, the theme for World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is ‘Keeping Humanity Alive’. We’re using it to call for greater protection for humanitarian workers and to highlight the positive work those in our network do. 

The IFRC X account will host, here, a special live ‘Spaces’ audio programme at 9.30am CET, featuring a panel of Red Cross and Red Crescent staff from around the world.   

For interviews with any of the volunteers highlighted below, or members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent leadership team about work over the last 12 months, please contact us. 

For interview requests, send an email to [email protected] 

Or, by phone: 

Andrew Thomas +41 763676587 

Mrinalini Santhanam +41 763815006 

Tommaso Della Longa +41797084367 

Red Cross/Red Crescent Network – stories of four volunteers. 

Syria – Muhammad Ghazawiya 

Muhammad Ghazawiya, a volunteer with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, was part of the response team addressing the fires in the Latakia countryside in 2023. During their operations, the team came across a house of an elderly couple, their children, and grandchildren. There were 15 people in it in total.  As the fire neared the house, Ghazawiya and his team moved fast to evacuate the family. Despite initial reluctance from the father of the family, they successfully persuaded him to leave, ensuring the safe evacuation of all family members without any injuries. The overall response efforts spanned a week, involving the evacuation of families from hazardous areas, support for firefighters, and the distribution of water and food to affected individuals. 

Japan - Makoto Morioka   

Makoto Morioka, a staff member of the Ishikawa Chapter of the Japanese Red Cross, fled his home alongside neighbours when they were hit by the Noto Peninsula earthquake on 1 January 2024. Arriving at the pre-designated evacuation centre with his family, he found it had been damaged and was not safe to stay in. He immediately led a relocation, loading supplies into a cart and heading for a school on higher ground. Thanks to the disaster simulation drills he had done at the Red Cross disaster preparedness seminar, he was able to act without hesitation, giving his community a safe place to shelter until buildings in his town were safe to return to.    

Mexico - Lupita Durán  

Over the last year, Lupita Durán, a volunteer with the Mexican Red Cross has been driving ‘the Racer’, a motorised humanitarian service point. With it, she travels through the desert of Nogales, Sonora, on the US-Mexico border, looking for migrants in need of first aid. Every afternoon, she also leaves water along their migration route, one that runs parallel to the wall that separates the two countries.  There is video footage of Lupita, free to download from here.  

Türkiye - Hafize Naz Ergüney 

In the aftermath of 2023’s earthquake, Hafize decided she needed to help. Going to the ’tent city’ in the main park of  the town of Kilavuzlu, she was surprised to bump into two of her best friends, Tuana and Rümeysa. Unbeknown to her, they had made the same decision. The three friends helped prepare, package and provide food, particularly for the elderly. Together, says Haifze, they became like a family, one sharing an immense sense of achievement. ”There is strength in unity” says Hafize ”we gave meaning to that.” 

Zambia: Emmanuel Chilufya 

Emmanuel began volunteering with the Zambia Red Cross when he was just 12 years old and has now, at 23, accumulated over a decade of experience. As a medical student and the chairperson of national youth programs at the Zambia Red Cross, he is leading efforts in the response to the cholera outbreak in Zambia. His roles are varied and crucial, including reconnecting patients with their families, educating recovered patients on health, and distributing chlorine. Emmanuel believes deeply in the power of community and service. “The Red Cross and Red Crescent has no boundaries—it's universal, available everywhere, for everyone.”