accessibility & help

Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal: facts and figures

Find out how the Red Cross is helping vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.

What's happening in Europe?

More than one million refugees or migrants reached Europe by sea in 2016. One million more have arrived in this way in 2017.

These unprecedented numbers are fuelled by a global refugee crisis. Worldwide, at the end of 2015, a record 65 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes.

Many people arriving in Europe are fleeing conflict or political persecution in their home countries. Roughly one in four arrivals were from Syria, while other notable countries of origin include Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Nigeria. For more information, see our refugee facts and figures page.

The British Red Cross has a long history of supporting refugees and asylum seekers around the world. You can help to continue our work by donating to our Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.

What is the Red Cross doing to support refugees in Europe?

The British Red Cross is part of a global network called the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Movement is working in most of the countries affected by the global refugee crisis.

This includes countries of origin such as Syria and Iraq. It includes countries that people are travelling to to flee violence and persecution such as Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Serbia. And we’re working in other countries where many people are seeking asylum such as Germany, France and the UK.

In the UK, the British Red Cross helps thousands of refugees and asylum seekers every year. You can find our refugee services in 60 UK towns and cities. Our staff and volunteers give support ranging from food and clothing to small amounts of cash for emergency items. We also offer volunteering and learning opportunities.

Crossing the Mediterranean

2016 was the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea – over 5,000 people were killed making the journey to Europe.

Those that survive have had horrific journeys, taking great personal risks to get here. They urgently need food, water and medical care.

Italian Red Cross staff and volunteers are helping migrants who arrive in the main ports of southern Italy. The Red Cross has done this work for many years.

They provide medical assistance, such as helping pregnant women and people who are dehydrated or injured.

They are providing basic necessities such as food and water. They are offering emotional and psychological support to traumatised people.

They are also helping to keep families together and restore family links for anyone who has been separated from their relatives on their journey.

Last year, the British Red Cross, working in partnership with the Italian Red Cross, the IFRC and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), supported two search and rescue boats in the Southern Mediterranean.


Border closures and the advent of the ‘EU-Turkey’ deal in March 2016 signalled the end of the rapid, highly visible movement of people through Greece, the Balkans and on into Western Europe.

Today there are around 50,000 people stranded in the country.

Since March 2016, migrants arriving on the Greek islands ‘irregularly’ are now held in a situation of detention, with their freedom of movement curtailed.

The thousands who arrived before the agreement but after the Balkan route closure remain in camps and centres across greater Athens and northern Greece. Some of them are living in extremely poor conditions.

The Red Cross in Greece is calling for people to be moved out of tents into longer term and more dignified housing. We believe the current conditions for migrants in Greece pose grave risks to their health and well-being, including their mental health.

The Red Cross is providing cash support to the most vulnerable. Pre-paid cards are topped up monthly so people can buy what they need most – be it food, medicines, clothes, mobile phone credit, or public transport.

Our engineers are also installing and maintaining water and sanitation infrastructure, as well as promoting good hygiene practices.

How are you going to spend the money raised by your appeal?

Money raised by our Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal will go towards the Red Cross’s work with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers across Europe and Turkey.

This will include providing humanitarian support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, ranging from food and clothing to casework advice.

It will also cover work by our partner Red Cross and Red Crescent societies elsewhere in Europe and in Turkey. For example, providing food, water and health care along the routes people are taking to flee violence and persecution.

No matter what crisis people are facing, we help those most in need, no matter who they are.

We are doing our best to reach the people who are in dire need but of course, we need to do more. That’s why we are running an emergency appeal. We need more funding to reach the worst-hit areas.


Donate to the Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal

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