Red Crescent began helping people before it was named

40 years of the UAE: The Red Crescent Authority, founded in 1983, provides assistance to needy families and victims of disaster around the world.

A year before it had formally launched, the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) was helping people to resettle and rebuild their lives after the devastating 1982 earthquake in Yemen.

Founded on January 31, 1983 as the Red Crescent Society, the RCA assisted victims of drought and famine in Eritrea and Sudan in 1984 and 1985, and helped to fight cholera in Somalia and Mauritania in those years.

In August 1986 it became the 139th member of the International Association of Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies.

"Every year, the RCA assists thousands of people and communities in the UAE and abroad," a spokesman said. "The assistance is in the form of direct relief aid such as food, medical services such as immunisation, mobile or field hospitals, medical equipment and care and providing safe water."

During disasters, the RCA builds hospitals, schools, water wells and mosques.

In the UAE, it provides social, medical and educational help, aids widows and divorcees, and undertakes food distribution.

Since 1996, the RCA has sponsored 53,000 orphans in 28 countries. In 2009, the first women's delegation visited Iraq, and the organisation spent more than Dh224 million (US$60.9m) in programmes and initiatives.

The RCA has been providing food, blankets and medical supplies to millions in Somalia and plans to help the victims of last month's earthquake in Turkey.

* Preeti Kannan

Published: November 20, 2011 04:00 AM