Red Cross providing life-saving assistance for hundreds of thousands displaced from Ukraine

By International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Red Cross providing life-saving assistance for hundreds of thousands displaced from Ukraine

The conflict in Ukraine is shaping up to be one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies in Europe for years to come, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As the fighting continues for the fifth day, millions of people in Ukraine desperately need safe drinking water and food, as roads are impassable, and electricity and water supplies are cut off. The most pressing needs are emergency medical care, medicine, clean water, and shelter for people who have had to leave their homes.

In recent days, the Ukrainian Red Cross has provided first aid training for more than 2,000 people sheltering in metro stations and bomb shelters so they can help treat family and friends in the event of injury. Its volunteers are helping to evacuate people with disabilities and emergency response teams are assisting firefighters, medical and civil protection teams – helping to save many lives. The National Society has already distributed its complete stock of 30,000 food and hygiene parcels for people on the move. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres set up in schools and coordinating with the Polish Red Cross to assist people at the border.

“Our teams are fully committed to helping as many people as possible. At the moment, it is often too dangerous to be outside and we cannot reach people without risking our own lives, but we continue to try our best. Yet, in the past few days, more than a thousand people have joined as Red Cross volunteers, which shows just how keen people are to help their communities in these dark times,” says Maksym Dotsenko, Director General of the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Due to the armed conflict, hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes and crossed into neighboring countries. As of 28 February afternoon, UNHCR reports that at least 500,000 people have left, but the number is growing by the hour as people queue at border crossing points.

To support the Ukrainian Red Cross and National Societies in neighboring countries, the IFRC has already released one million Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, ahead of a multi-million francs Emergency Appeal to be launched tomorrow.

Red Cross teams in Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Slovakia have immediately mobilized to help people arriving from Ukraine. Temporary accommodation has been set up along the borders to offer shelter or respite for the night. Volunteers are distributing food, water, bedding, clothes, and basic aid items on both sides of the border and providing medical care and psychosocial support for those in need. They’re also handing out SIM cards so that people can stay in touch with their loved ones.

“It is heartbreaking to see so many individual tragedies unfold at our doorstep. Humanitarian actors like National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies should be given safe access to people who are injured, hungry and desperate, no matter who or where they are. There’s no end in sight for this conflict and no telling when people can safely return home. Until that day, we will be there to support them,” says Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe.