27th International Conference
of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

ICRC 6199

30/99

Geneva, 1 November 1999

Red Cross/Red Crescent reports major drop in global volunteer force

In the last decade, the worldwide volunteer force of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has dropped by more than 50 per cent, according to a new study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The "Learning in the Nineties" report indicates that the number of members and volunteers has dropped from 220 million to 105 million since 1990.

"It is difficult to gauge the exact numbers of volunteers worldwide, but there is a clear drop which we need to investigate, " says Christoph Mueller, director of the volunteering review project. "We count on our volunteers to deliver core services in the field, so we need to look for new ways to recruit and keep our volunteers."

Dropping numbers of volunteers and members are not limited to the Red Cross, but are part of a global trend affecting churches, trade unions and humanitarian organizations. This trend is driven by changing social and political factors. The growth of individualism, the fall of communism with its system collective volunteering, and a shift of attitude away from volunteering as a civic duty to a leisure activity, have all contributed to a drop worldwide.

Despite the decline in numbers, the Red Cross and Crescent believes that the spirit of volunteering is still strong. "The world around us may have changed, but the mission of the Red Cross and Crescent remains the same, " says Steve Davey, International Conference spokesperson. " Today, communities and governments know they need volunteers, and people still have the desire to help one another in times of need."

This critical issue is being discussed today at a workshop at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The International Conference, held every four years, is a gathering of the entire Red Cross Movement including representatives of 176 National Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the 188 signatories of the Geneva Conventions.

For further information, please contact:

Wivina Belmonte, Information Officer Tel: 41 22 730 4377

Marie-Françoise Borel, Information Officer Tel: 41 22 730 4214

The International Federation, the ICRC and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

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