|Basic Rules of International Humanitarian Law (ICRC, 26 p.)|
Each of the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has its own particular characteristics, and their activities are extremely varied, according to the needs of their country and its inhabitants. But they all have in common three fundamental aims: the alleviation of suffering, the improvement of health and the prevention of disease. The independence they must demand in the carrying out of their activities allows them to act without taking into account differences of race, creed or political opinion.
From the outset, the goal of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been to create relief societies which, in their capacity as auxiliaries of their country's armed forces medical services, would be called upon to tend wounded or sick soldiers. Together with the protection of the wounded, this was the primary aim of the very first Convention that was signed, the Geneva Convention of 1864.
If should finally be noted that in peacetime it is the duty of the National Societies to be prepared for their activities in the event of war, the role for which they were initially created.
Categories of victims to be assisted
Wounded and sick
Should the military hospital services in the combat area be overburdened, the National Society will put its own medical personnel at the disposal of the armed forces, i.e.: first-aid workers, stretcher-bearers, drivers and ambulances, the express authorization to do so having been obtained from the appropriate military authorities.
With the consent of the component authorities, the National Society will help in evacuating from combat areas not only the wounded and sick but also the infirm, the aged, pregnant women, young children and their mothers, in short, all persons considered to be vulnerable.
Combatants who have been killed
Should a first-aid worker find a dead combatant, he must take his identity disc or one half of the double identity disc and send it to the headquarters of the National Society, which will transmit the details to the authorities and, in the case of an enemy combatant, also to the ICRC Central Tracing Agency in Geneva. This is the only way to spare a family years of uncertainty about the fate of a missing relative. If there is no disc, the body must be identified by all other possible means.
Prisoners of war
National Society personnel will assist the ICRC in providing relief supplies and medical care, and give logistic and administrative support to the ICRC in relief, transmission of mail, money transfers, power of attorney, etc.
The preparation of standard parcels and the centralization of mail to be forwarded through the ICRC will be undertaken by the National Society.
The National Society will organize the reception of repatriated prisoners.
First aiders will give first-aid services in co-operation with the responsible authorities (dispensaries, ambulances, mobile medical units, stretcher-bearers).
The evacuation of persons considered to be vulnerable (the infirm, the aged, children, pregnant women) will be undertaken by National Society personnel with the consent of the authorities.
Displaced persons, repatriates, homeless persons, dispersed families, disabled persons
The First Aiders could, in collaboration with their National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society, help with the distribution of blankets, clothing and food to the vulnerable groups.