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8 May – A day for remembrance and celebration

On 8 May, we celebrate the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. As a number of conflicts and disasters continue to unfold worldwide - natural disasters, major health hazards, contexts where disaster prevention and preparedness stakes are high - this date remains sadly topical. Thousands of delegates and millions of volunteers working under the flag of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement continue to cast a glimmer of hope on the lives of so many women and men, and on so many communities affected by conflict and disaster. More than ever before, we must continue to fight for the ideals represented by the Red Cross and for the hopes of Henri Dunant, that it is possible to restore an element of humanity in situations of unspeakable violence.

On 8 May, we also celebrate VE Day, the day when the Second World War massacre came to an end. Out of the ashes and mourning arose hopes for a new world. New conventions were written to protect the human race. From the ruins of a broken Europe, the United Nations emerged with wild dreams for making war illegal. But alas, the shadow of war continues to haunt us. Following the end of the Cold War twenty years ago, a number of conflicts broke out in collapsed States or as a result of dispute over natural resources, including Bosnia, Rwanda, the DRC, Darfur, the Caucasus and the Horn of Africa, to name but a few. Soldiers and civilians continue to fall, on the battlefield or in other horrific circumstances. A flame is lit for the Unknown Soldier but there is no flame for the Unknown Civilian...

But on 8 May 2012, VE Day celebrations in Paris had a slightly different atmosphere. People were singing the Chant des Partisans, two men stood in front of the Arc de Triomphe, heralding a new political transition. For more than twenty years now, Groupe URD has been working to improve the practices of aid workers and humanitarian institutions engaged in disaster and conflict situations. We remain fully committed to this cause.