WASHINGTON — The American Red Cross (ARC) is one of the most well-known nonprofit organizations in the United States. Since 1881, this humanitarian organization has provided a variety of human services, such as blood donations, responses to natural disasters and support for military families and those in need within the U.S. However, what may not be as well known about the American Red Cross are their services abroad.
The ARC International Services (ARCIS) primarily focuses on assisting developing communities in 73 countries around the world. Their international services include: responding to international disasters, building safe communities and educating future generations on humanitarian principles.
The ARC is ready to assist those affected by disasters in several ways. The ARCIS provides emergency shelter, supplies like blankets and hygiene provisions and financial support to those in need.
In 2011, these services were available in more than 20 countries affected by natural disasters and various social and political conflicts. Many of the services provided are available after the immediate recovery efforts have ended.
During disasters, families are often separated. When this happens, the ARC searches for lost family members across international borders and provides comfort and support to the missing persons’ family. The American Red Cross assists more than 5,000 families in reconnecting with lost family members every year.
The ARCIS works to build safer communities after disasters to ensure that the communities will be able to recover at a faster rate should another disaster strike. To help these communities do so, members within the community are trained to be first responders to lessen the effects of common hazards.
Through the Measles and Rubella Initiative, the ARC also works to prevent diseases from spreading in international communities. According to the World Health Organization, measles caused 120,000 deaths in 2012, and fortunately that number is steadily decreasing since more than 1 billion children received vaccinations against these two diseases with the help of this initiative and other programs.
Humanitarian principles play a large role in the ARCIS. By providing global education on these principles, the organization hopes that future generations will continue providing humanitarian aid. Within the U.S., the ARC educates both youth and adults to help them understand the international humanitarian law. This law attempts to protect civilian lives.
The assistance provided by the ARCIS has helped millions of victims recover from various disasters and dangerous conditions worldwide. As important as supplies are in the recovery process, perhaps the comfort and support these people receive reveals the compassion of humanity.
– Meghan Orner
Sources: American Red Cross , American Red Cross International Services 1, American Red Cross International Services 2, American Red Cross International Services 3, American Red Cross International Services 4, World Health Organization, United Nations Foundation