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Switzerland commemorates World Red Cross Day

The Swiss Red Cross has given a cultural flavour to World Red Cross Day, which commemorates the birth of Henri Dunant, the movement's founder. Organisers said the day was meant to show that the organisation is a "school for life", or learning experience.

With this in mind, at this year's event, artists were asked to give form to their vision of the Red Cross organisation. Together with members of the public, musicians, clowns and magicians set the tone for Monday's celebration in a circus tent set up outside the Swiss federal parliament in Berne.

The public took part in interactive performances by Pello the Clown, the magician, Arne Petersen, and the singers Michel Bühler, Nina Dimitri and Clara Moreau. They also tried their hand at sculpture, courtesy of Schang Hutter.

However, the more traditional Red Cross activities were not forgotten. Switzerland's numerous search and rescue societies, which work actively with the Red Cross, organised a demonstration of the skills of their rescue dogs. The organisation's youth section ran an exhibition on international humanitarian relief, ahead of an international camp that it is holding this summer on the theme in Nottwil, canton Lucerne.

Geneva's Henri Dunant was born in 1828, and died in 1910. After witnessing the Battle of Solferino in Italy in 1859, he published a manifesto in 1862 calling for the establishment of a neutral humanitarian organisation.

The Swiss Red Cross was founded the following year, sowing the seeds for a global organisation. The movement currently comprises the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with member societies from 175 countries.

swissinfo with agencies


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