What began 160 years ago as one man’s dream has grown over the past century and a half into the world’s largest relief organisation. With nearly 100 million members, volunteers and supporters and branches in 192 countries, the Red Cross helps people in natural disasters, pandemics, conflicts and other emergencies. Spain’s Cruz Roja also contributes.

Spain has always been on the front line on humanitarian issues. Not surprisingly, the country was the seventh to sign the first Geneva Convention, drafted in 1864 on the initiative of Red Cross founder Henry Dunant. Six years later, the Cruz Roja came into action for the first time, providing humanitarian aid in the Franco-Prussian war. In 1872, it acted independently for the
first time in the Third Carlist War.

What does the Cruz Roja do?

Although much has changed since the early years, the basic principles are still firmly embedded in the organisation. Humaneness, neutrality, impartiality, independence, voluntarism, unity and generality are central and form the basis of everything the Red Cross does. Whether that is helping with an earthquake, a hurricane or the forest fires that ravaged the country recently. Or to fight poverty, accommodate evacuees, promote equality in the workplace or fight discrimination.

A catchy example of the work is the homegrown assistance in 2012. As a result of the economic crisis, almost 22% of Spaniards lived below the poverty line of less than 630 euros a month. Unemployment also hit hard, leaving some families with no money coming in at all, as they don’t know benefits in Spain. Ultimately, the Cruz Roja supported these crisis victims with things like food, clothes, nappies and school supplies. But money was also made available to provide shelter for homeless people and young people with no income.








70,000 volunteers, 20 million actions

One of the best-known examples, however, is surely the corona crisis aid. At the beginning of COVID-19, the Red Cross launched an action called ‘Plan Cruz Roja RESPONDE’ to help affected people worldwide. With the participation of more than 70,000 volunteers and the help of numerous organisations, as many as 20 million actions were undertaken. Actions in vaccination, testing, medical aid, transportation of patients and relief goods, as well as prevention and education.

How can you support the Red Cross?

Whether it is the Cruz Roja in Spain or the Red Cross in the Netherlands: you decide what you donate, donate or sponsor, and even which action your donation goes to. Of course, new volunteers are also more than welcome. So check your country’s Red Cross site, because there is still more than enough work to be done worldwide.