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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007, 09:35 GMT
Red Crystal gets official status
Red Crystal flag for use by emergency workers
The new non-religious symbol can be used anywhere it is needed
The Red Crystal has joined the Red Cross and Crescent as an official symbol of the world's best-known humanitarian organisation.

The symbols are recognised under the Geneva Conventions as protective signs for relief workers.

The crystal - a red diamond on a white background - is meant to be a neutral emblem for states objecting to the cross or crescent on religious grounds.

It was adopted as a compromise to allow Israel to join last year.

"The red crystal reaffirms the determination of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to... enhance its strength and credibility," the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a joint statement.

Israel's own relief society, Magen David Adom, had been seeking membership since the 1930s but its red Star of David emblem was not accepted under the Geneva conventions.

RC protection emblems
Used in conflict zones to protect medics and civil defence teams
Original symbol, reverse of Swiss flag, adopted in 1864
Red Crescent first used by Ottoman Empire in 1870s; formally recognised in 1929; used by 33 of 185 RC societies
Red Crystal can be used alone or in combination with recognised symbols

Israel was admitted along with the Palestinian Red Crescent at a meeting in Geneva last June.

Muslim states had opposed its membership over the status of land it occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The Red Cross symbol - the reversal of the colours on the Swiss national flag - was adopted in 1863 when the organisation was set up to care for wounded soldiers.

Muslim countries objected to the use of the cross symbol, which is redolent of the Crusades in medieval times, and have used a crescent instead since the 19th Century.

Red Cross votes to admit Israel
22 Jun 06 |  Europe
Golan dispute halts 'Red Crystal'
07 Dec 05 |  Middle East

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