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Red Cross Launches Campaign for Better World

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is launching a global campaign to activate people to make the world a better place in which to live. The organizers say every person can do something to alleviate the suffering of others, whether on a local or global scale.

The International Red Cross says tens of millions of people are affected by armed conflict, natural catastrophes, internal violence and climate change.

It notes the suffering of people crushed by disease, displacement, grinding poverty and other misfortunes too often goes unnoticed. It argues the importance of giving the victims of war and disaster a stronger voice and says this is why the Red Cross is issuing this call to action.

The launch of the campaign, called "Our world, Your move" coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino, in Italy, which led to the creation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Red Cross spokeswoman Anna Nelson tells VOA the idea of the Red Cross movement was that of one man, Henri Dunant, who happened across the battlefield, saw tens of thousands of wounded men and decided to do something to help.

"So, in the spirit of that, we are also trying to show people that individuals can make a big difference. So, in a sense, what we are doing is looking at today's Solferino, today's battlefield, today's challenges. We are saying that just like 150 years ago, one person can make a difference and together we can actually make a move to make our world a better place," she said.

The Red Cross has established a Web portal where people can interact, exchange ideas and suggestions for a better world.

The Red Cross Movement has a network of 60 million volunteers in 186 countries. It is these men and women who are usually the first to respond to a natural disaster or help those caught in conflict.

Nelson says the volunteers on the front line offering help, very often are themselves victims.

She says help comes in many forms. It can involve dispensing aid to millions of people displaced by the Darfur conflict in Sudan or it can take the form of extending help to an elderly neighbor who is unable to go shopping for food.

Nelson says simple actions can go a long way.

"Our message is you do not necessarily have to be a member of the Red Cross. If you want to sign up and volunteer-great. But, you do not necessarily have to. I think it is a question of being that little bit more aware and thinking today of what small thing can I do to make a difference. And, I think what people will find is that once you start to understand that that feels good, that giving really does feel good - that opens up a whole new range of horizons in terms of what you can do to make the world a better place," said Nelson.

Millions of campaign enthusiasts in more than 80 countries are expected to turn out to celebrate the launch of the campaign on May 8, which is also recognized as World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.

In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross will unveil a new traveling exhibit featuring images from five of the world's leading war photographers. The exhibit opens in New York, Geneva, and other major cities and will eventually tour 40 countries.