Addressing the needs of people affected by the conflict in Ukraine

A refugee from Ukraine and her baby receive winter assistance from the Moldova Red Cross in Balti, Moldova, in December 2022.

A refugee from Ukraine and her baby receive winter assistance from the Moldova Red Cross in Balti, Moldova, in December 2022.

Photo: IFRC/Erik Ugarte López


Speech delivered by IFRC Europe Regional Director, Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, at a UN press briefing on 26 May 2023.

This week, it will be 11,000 hours since the conflict in Ukraine escalated. For the people affected, those are 11,000 hours of fear, worry, and uncertainty: how to keep your family safe, if you can get help from a doctor, if you can pay the rent, or what tomorrow will bring.

More than one year in, millions of people are still directly affected by the conflict, inside and outside Ukraine. And hour by hour, their needs are growing and changing.

To continue responding to these needs, the IFRC is calling on significant new investment to ensure we can address this. Now is not the time to scale back.

Many people inside Ukraine have limited access to the most basic of needs, such as water, energy, and medical care. Every day, they face uncertainty: When can I go home? Will we be able to pay the rent this month? Where can we go if one of us gets sick?

And then there are the millions of people staying outside of the country, throughout Europe. Every day, they are also living in uncertainty. They are staying in a country where they might not speak the language, not knowing what the future holds, worried about loved ones at home.

To ensure we provide the right support, we are constantly monitoring what the needs are. Today, I want to share our most recent and worrying findings.

People displaced inside Ukraine are struggling with the lack of income and increased stress levels. We have seen deteriorating mental health conditions during our psychosocial support activities.

Many people outside of Ukraine are struggling financially. They have used up all their savings, a lot of them now have mounting debts.

In many countries, The IFRC network is providing cash assistance to people in need. Many people use this for food and rent. 41% of the people receiving this support depend on us to cover their basic needs. But of course, this is not a long term, sustainable solution. This is why we are helping people connect to services in country.

The language barrier makes it hard for people to participate in daily life. It can make it harder to go to school, get a job and access healthcare.

Yesterday, I came back from Moldova – there I saw what we see in many countries: this conflict has taken an immense toll on people's mental health. Families are broken and people worry and suffer from trauma, which makes psychosocial support vital.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the IFRC network has been supporting millions of people suffering from the consequences of the international armed conflict in more than 54 countries.

For example, we have reached almost 17 million people with relief items for basic needs, such as food, water and blankets. We have also been supporting millions of people with shelter, medical support, and mental health support. And we are providing cash assistance for people both inside and outside of Ukraine, to empower people to buy what they need.

The IFRC has extended its humanitarian aid operation until at least the end of 2025 and expanded our emergency appeal for Ukraine and surrounding countries to include 18 countries on the European continent. To make sure we can continue to support those in need, we have revised our Emergency Appeal from 550 million Swiss francs to 800 million Swiss francs.

Regrettably, every hour, we continue to see people suffering from the conflict. As the Red Cross and Red Crescent network, we will continue to support them. Within Ukraine, and many countries in Europe. We hope you will be with us, as we cannot do it alone.

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