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The ICRC - 150 years of humanitarian action around the world : A Photo Essay


Since its creation in Geneva in 1863, the ICRC’s sole objective has been to ensure protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and strife. The constantly changing nature of war and other violence has continually thrown up new challenges for humanitarian action ensuring that over time the scope of the ICRC’s work has also grown.This photo essay is to celebrate, reflect and learn from our 150-year long journey in this challenging and constantly evolving world of humanitarian action.

Covering the expanse of a century and a half of humanitarian action, the images here portray the ICRC’s activities in South Asia responding to the needs of people suffering from man-made and natural disasters. Others bring back memories of specific historical moments from the ICRC’s assistance work and its presence in India at the time of the First and Second World Wars, the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1947-48, 1965, 1971 and other major events in the region.


India – 1939-1945. A medical staff member treating prisoners of war during World War II. © ICRC


South Africa – 1906. Mahatma Gandhi (seated – centre, middle row) with 
other Red Cross volunteers during the Zulu revolt of 1906. © ICRC


India – 1957. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) addresses the audience 
on the opening of the XIXth International Conference of the Red Cross. © ICRC

Pakistan – 1972. One hundred and twenty four civilians and Pakistani prisoners of war 
are repatriated to their home country in a Red Cross plane. © ICRC/François Musy


Bangladesh – 1950. Women work on their weaving looms at a hospital run by the 
ICRC in a refugee camp near Dhaka, during the India-Pakistan War. © ICRC


Afghanistan - 2011. The ICRC medical staff accompany hospital 
doctors on their daily rounds at Mirwais Regional Hospital. © ICRC


Afghanistan – Kabul – 2010. In Afghanistan landmines pose a great risk to the population. Wheelchair basketball, 
which began ten years ago in Mazar-i-Sharif, in north Afghanistan, is today an increasingly popular sport at 
ICRC’s seven Physical Rehabilitation Centres across the country. © Sitting Images/David Constantine

Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Administered Kashmir – 2005. Wounded people waiting 
to be evacuated in an ICRC helicopter after the devastating earthquake. © ICRC


India - 1965. ICRC’s delegates distributing milk to children at 
a refugee camp in Jammu region during India Pakistan conflict. © ICRC


Trincomalee district, Sri Lanka – 2008. People return to their families after receiving essential items from 
the ICRC. The bridge was destroyed during combat between the Sri Lankan 
Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). © ICRC/Amnon Gutman