Red Cross urges governments to protect people on the move as freezing weather is set to sweep Europe this weekend

Publié: 20 novembre 2015

Budapest/Geneva, 20 November 2015: Plunging temperatures are expected to chill Europe this weekend putting the lives of thousands of refugees at risk, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The IFRC is calling on all governments to take steps to protect people seeking safety and ensure their suffering is not compounded as the weather deteriorates as well as urging all organisations to step-up and meet increasing needs.

Director of the IFRC in Europe, Simon Missiri, said: “Winter looks set to arrive in the next few days, putting lives at risk and making a difficult situation for hundreds of thousands of people even more dire.”

Missiri said: “It is vital that governments make protection a priority – people are already facing an immense struggle.  We all need to play a part in striving to ensure this doesn’t become significantly worse.”

With temperatures predicted to plummet as low as minus 4C in parts of the Balkans and central Europe and daytime highs hovering around zero, people making the difficult cross-continent journey urgently need winter supplies.

Hypothermia and exposure are among the main health concerns as people face days making the journey across Europe to safety. Sub-zero conditions will put people at risk – especially older people, children and those who are already suffering from illness. Red Cross medics also fear the psychological impact of worsening weather on people who have already suffered immense hardship.

IFRC disaster management co-ordinator, Cristina Estrada, said: “One of our teams in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia recently met a woman who was 97 and had travelled from Syria – it’s hard to imagine how those most vulnerable people will cope with the coming months of bitter weather.”

The Red Cross has been stockpiling supplies to cope with the onset of a brutal winter and is prioritizing hot meals, warm clothing, shoes and socks, blankets and sleeping bags, sourcing temporary heated accommodation, particularly across the Balkan route. High-energy food for children will be provided and there will be an increase in the number of mobile health teams and medics operating along the routes.

Estrada said: “People are arriving at borders with very few belongings and in many cases, only the clothes on their backs. We are gravely concerned about the impact of freezing conditions.

“We are scaling up to cope but we are dealing with the biggest movement of people for a generation and the needs are staggering.”

The Red Cross is responding with more than 50,000 volunteers across 28 countries and has reached at least 370,000 people in transit. More than 2.1 million meals and food parcels have been provided and 190,000 medical cases have been treated across Europe. More than 84,000 people have also received psychological support. 

The IFRC has today (Friday) expanded its emergency appeals to more than 71.5 million Swiss francs fund vital work responding to population movement across Europe. An additional 1.5 million Swiss francs will focus on aid coordination and increased flexibility to allow the Red Cross and Red Crescent to quickly adapt its response to this complex crisis.

It calls on donors to scale up their response to the humanitarian needs which will become more acute with the imminent arrival of winter.

To learn more about the IFRC migration response, and to add your voice to the global Red Cross and Red Crescent call for the rights and dignity of vulnerable migrants to be respected, visit

For further information or to setup interviews, please contact:

In Budapest

Linda Low, IFRC communications manager, Europe Region

Tel +36 18884507 +36 18884507  Mobile: +36 709537704 +36 709537704

Email: Skype: linda.low Twitter: @linda_low

Nichola Jones, IFRC emergency communications delegate

Tel: +44 7715 459956 +44 7715 459956 Email:

Twitter: @nicjones81

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications

Tel: +41792132413 +41792132413  Email: Twitter: @BenoistC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.