Ukraine crisis: the Red Cross response across Europe
How the Red Cross is helping people affected by the conflict in Ukraine, both inside the country and in bordering nations
Last updated 4 May 2022
Even before the frightening events of recent months, communities in Ukraine were bearing the brunt of eight long years of conflict.
The latest on the situation in Ukraine
For the past few weeks we have seen reports of death, injury and separated families, along with damage to homes and other infrastructure in the country.
More than 5 million people have left the country, and a further 7.7 million are displaced from their homes within Ukraine.
The humanitarian situation caused by the ongoing conflict is increasingly desperate, with hundreds of thousands of people without food, water, heat or medical care. At least 18 million people – or one-third of Ukraine’s population - will require humanitarian assistance.
In February, we launched an emergency fundraising appeal to support the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross, the ICRC and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners working in border countries.
How is the Ukrainian Red Cross helping on the ground?
The Ukrainian Red Cross has assisted more than 1.5 million people so far.
Since the conflict began, the Ukrainian Red Cross has distributed 400 tonnes of aid, including food, bedding, blankets, tents, water, and hygiene items across the country. A further 1,800 tonnes of life-saving aid has also arrived from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), including war-wounded kits, kitchen sets, water and sanitation supplies. More aid is in the pipeline.
The Ukrainian Red Cross has also provided food, warm clothing and other aid to around 7,000 people sheltering in metro stations. They are also providing first aid, and have done first aid training for more than 42,000 people in metro stations and bomb shelters.
The ICRC has more than 600 staff in country. Teams from the ICRC have been delivering medical supplies, food, water and hygiene material in Kyiv, Mariupol, Odessa, Donetsk, Luhansk, and many other places.
On 29 April, a convoy of buses and ambulances travelled some 230 kilometres and reached the plant in Mariupol on Saturday morning, local time.
This complex operation is conducted in coordination with the parties to the conflict and the United Nations.
As a neutral and impartial humanitarian intermediary, the ICRC has been facilitating the dialogue between the parties on the safe passage of civilians since late February.
Ukrainian Red Cross: "People need our support"
Ukraine Crisis Appeal
Volunteers from the Ukrainian Red Cross Society speak about the support they are providing to people across the country during the crisis
The situation is incredibly tense, dangerous and distressing. People have taken shelter in basements, but often lack the most basic supplies such as food and water and are unable to go out because of the shelling.
The intensification and spread of the conflict means the risk of death and destruction is frightening to contemplate.
“As the conflict evolves and escalates, the anguish and fear people have endured for the past three days deepen," says Florence Gillette, the ICRC's head of delegation in Ukraine. "We are extremely concerned that the conflict is affecting very densely populated areas, including the capital Kyiv and other major cities. As we have seen time and time again in our work all over the world, when neighbourhoods become the frontline, the consequences for people – including children, the sick, the elderly – are simply devastating."
How is the Red Cross helping people who have fled Ukraine?
In just over two months, five million people have left Ukraine due to the conflict, with even more still displaced from their homes within the country. The Ukrainian Red Cross has so far helped around 80,000 people to reach safer areas.
Red Cross teams in eight nearby and bordering countries including Poland, Moldova, Slovakia and Romania have been supporting people on arrival in each country.
Red Cross support in Poland
More than 2.1 million people have crossed into Poland since February 2022. Polish Red Cross teams are providing round-the-clock health care and psychosocial support, as well as distributing food and basic aid items to people arriving from Ukraine. The Polish Red Cross has also sent food and medical tents to Ukraine.
Red Cross support in Slovakia
At the border crossing point in Ubla, the Slovak Red Cross has put up tents for people arriving from Ukraine - more than 250,000 have arrived into the country since the conflict began.
They are providing first aid, transporting people with disabilities and have set up restoring family links services for people who are looking for family members. So far the Slovak Red Cross has reached an estimated 71,000 people.
Red Cross support in Romania
The Romanian Red Cross has deployed volunteers from branches along the border to distribute food, water, basic aid items and hygiene products to people in need, reaching an estimated 70,000 people.
Thousands of SIM cards are also being distributed so that people can keep in touch with their loved ones. So far more than 543,000 people have crossed into Romania.
Providing shelter, food and first aid
Red Cross support in Hungary
Meanwhile, the Hungarian Red Cross has established information and first aid points along the border and is also providing food and hygiene items for some of the around 317,000 people arriving in the country. More than 3,000 volunteers have been mobilised to reach more than 100,000 people with hot drinks and food, resting areas, healthcare and information. The Hungarian Red Cross has also sent 25 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Red Cross support in Moldova and Lithuania
In Moldova, volunteers and staff have provided support to almost 368,000 people crossing the border from Ukraine. They are at all border crossing points offering everything from tea and warm food to baby's nappies. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres, helping with food preparation and child-friendly spaces.
The Lithuanian Red Cross has mobilised close to 7,000 volunteers. They have been collecting clothing, bedding materials, blankets and other household items – enough to fill 37 trucks and eight buses – and has delivered them to Ukraine. Every branch of the National Society is involved in distributing humanitarian packages to people arriving in Lithuania, and more than 17,000 have been distributed so far.
Red Cross support in Russia
At least 250,000 people have entered Russia from Donbas in eastern Ukraine. To date, Russian Red Cross teams have delivered 245 tonnes of aid including clothing, hygiene kits, baby products and household items. They are providing psychosocial support, have opened a mental health support hotline and have provided 2,000 consultations. More than 1,100 calls have come in to the restoring family links hotline.
What does the Red Cross think of reports people are experiencing racism when fleeing Ukraine?
There have been increasing media reports of racism as people try to leave Ukraine. We call for everyone to provide non-discriminatory humanitarian assistance and support to those who are fleeing Ukraine and waiting at the borders.
This should go hand in hand with efforts to increase efficiency and capacity of border checks to speed up the process. Access to safety should be provided to everyone in need, without discrimination.
Racism is at the core of human suffering - not just today, but throughout history. It has no place in our society's future and we commit to fighting racism of all forms.
The Ukraine Foreign Office has set up a hotline for Black, Asian and other students who need help: +380934185684 (accessible via phone, Telegram and Viber).
How can the UK government support Ukrainian people?
At the British Red Cross, we believe that no matter where someone is on their journey in search of safety they should be able to get the basics and be treated with dignity.
"This situation in Ukraine highlights why proposals in the Nationality and Borders Bill need urgent rethinking," says Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross. "Over the coming weeks and months, we could see people fleeing Ukraine start to take desperate measures in their search for safety or to join family already in the UK; this could include crossing the Channel in small boats or lorries. Refugees should not be judged by how they travel - they should be welcomed and supported no matter how they arrive."
How is the British Red Cross supporting refugees from Ukraine in the UK?
We’re ready to support with arrivals into UK airports and at train stations from Ukraine, working with our partners including local authorities. We don’t yet know when or where our support may be needed but we are preparing to warmly welcome people who have had to leave their homes and lives behind in a moment.
It’s likely most people will arrive with very few belongings given the rushed nature of fleeing conflict. Emotional support will be key in those first few hours and days after arrival, given the traumas many people will have been through.
We are ready to provide compassionate support, information and basics like food, clothes and blankets if that is needed, along with helping families contact loved ones, wherever they may be.
How can I support people in Ukraine?
We have launched the Ukraine Crisis Appeal to support the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross, the ICRC and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners working in border countries, reaching people with food, water, medical assistance, protection and trauma care.
Your donation could go a long way to help people who need it right now:
- £5 could provide 600 chlorine tablets to ensure that families have access to clean, safe water
- £10 could provide a hygiene kit to a family of five, giving them supplies to stay healthy for a month
- £20 could provide five blankets to families taking shelter
- £100 could provide sleeping mats to 66 people who have been forced from their homes
- £210 could provide a fully equipped first aid kit, including supplies, to a first aider treating the wounded.
The Ukrainian Red Cross and ICRC have been working hand in hand with affected communities through almost eight years of conflict, and this will not stop now.
Are you a Ukrainian national in the UK?
We have information on family visas, the Ukrainian family scheme and claiming asylum in the UK.
Other ways to support
- You can donate to the Ukraine Crisis Appeal
- Pledge that Every Refugee Matters
- Look after your wellbeing as well as other people's
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