From goats to gourmet
Molnárné Tomi Tünde spent much of her childhood in the kitchen next to her grandmother, learning thelocal cuisineand the ingredients that people in her part ofnorth-eastern Hungaryknew how to find in the landscape, or grow from the region’s fertile ground. Nearly everyone at that time had a garden, some sheep and a few goats.
But successivewaves of economic and social upheavalchanged all that and many people found themselves out of work and distanced from the land. Many of the old ways of making delicious food from local plants and animals fell by the wayside in a world where the main foods people could afford where industrial commodities produced at a large scale.
No wonder that even this energetic and dynamic woman — a force for various good causes in her community — never conceived that she would end up helping to reinvigorate some of her region’s traditional cuisine as a gourmet cheese master.
“I always liked cheese,” she says. “But I never dreamt of producing it.”
After all, Tünde was a social worker, not a chef.As a Red Cross employee, she was well known for organizing blood drives and other initiatives to help those hardest hit by the changes in the local economy.
Cooking up a new approach
Butthenthe Hungarian Red Crossbegancooking up a planthat would changeTünde’slife,while alsohelpingturn around the lives of many people in the area who were going through hard times.
The idea wasto createa sustainable social enterprise that wouldgenerate enough income togive marginalised people(with mental or physical disabilities,health problems or who aremembers of ethnic minority groups)achance to learn new skills, earn asteady income, andfinda place to belong.
The product thatthe Hungarian Red Cross hadsettledon was goat cheese,which would beproduced in a small factory using milk from asmall, nearbygoatfarm. To some in the region, itfirstseemed like a pretty radical idea.
“This is the first goatfarm here inMezőcsát,”Tündenoted.“The people here were surprised, and even more about the fact, thatthe Red Cross is doing something like that.Here, the Red Cross ismainlyknownforblood donation.”
The cheese factory and farmgot off the ground with funding from the Hungarian government, the European Union and the Hungarian Red Cross, andaftermany long daysput in byRedCross employees, from the local branch to Budapest,the new cheese brand was officially launched in April 2019.
The idea came from Red Cross staffwhowanted toexplorenew approaches to humanitarian workin whichasocial enterprisewouldcreate a sustainable way ofhelp disadvantaged residents of the region to find theirown long-term livelihood,instead ofonlygivingfood or other kinds of donations.
At the same time, this new humanitarian business modelwouldgive socially conscious food consumers a waytoconnectthe food they lovewith things they care about: preserving local food traditions, environmental sustainability,acts of kindnessand solidarityand,last but not least,tasty andhealthy foodsto enjoy(all the farm’s cheeses aremade with no preservatives and artificialflavors).
In the end,the goat farm was not only accepted, it took off. The Red Cross’s cheese brand,Kis-Hortobágy Major,launched in April 2019,(see here alink to itsFacebookpage and a recentYouTubepromotional video), has already found a home on shelves in markets fromMezőcsátto Budapest.
Becoming a master cheese maker
Fortunately, when leadership from theHungarian Red Crossasked Tünde to consider directing the operation, she did have some experience to fall back on. “My grandmother and great-grandmother used to make cheese,” she says. “They owned cows, so [the process] was not entirely new to me.”
Still Tünde had some homework to do. Just passed her 50th birthday, Tünde reinvented herself, putting all her culinary and people skills to the test. Fortunately, her husband Tibor had some experience with animals and took on the task of running the goat farm. Tünde, meanwhile, sharpened her own culinary talents and studied to become a certified master cheese maker.
“We usually wake up very early, at 4 o’clock,” she says. “We drink our coffee with my husband. We start working at 5 o’clock, I go to the cheese factory, and he goes to the farm.”
In the beginning,there were 10 people taking care of 50 goatsand preparing the handmade gourmet cheese in a modern and accessible factory building. Today,Kis-Hortobágy Major is financially self-sustainableand its farmstead housesmore than 90 goats, 200 hens and quails and it boasts a large vegetable garden, giving work to the employees who prepare dairy products ranging from smoked cheese to orda, parenica, yoghurt and many other products.
A growing farm, a big family
“I never worked at a farm before, but I like it,” says Norbi, one of the farm workers, whose tasks on any given day might range from feeding the chickens to milking goats or tending the garden.
One of the workers in the cheese factory says she’s also learned a variety of new skills. “I’ve learned how cheese is produced, I had no clue about it earlier,” she says.
Aside fromproviding jobs to people who really need them, Kis-Hortobágy Majoris playing a role in a growing movement that celebrates locally produced, artisanal productsas a key part of finding solutions to a range of social and environmental challenges.
But for many of the workers, it’s about even more.
“For me it’s not just a working place, it’s like a family,” says one of the farm workers.
That family spirit comes through during meals when team members sit down together to share the fruits of their labors. Using their own goat cheese to make the meal is only natural since goat cheese is used in a wide range of regional dishes, from salads to pastries and meat dishes.
But it’s not just Tünde’s talents in the kitchen that make this social enterprise a success. It’s also her natural compassion and experience as a social worker that make Kis-Hortobágy Major a special place to work.
“I don’t think of her as a boss,” says one of the cheese factory workers. “I think of her rather as a friend. It is very good to work with her. She listens to me and helps me in every aspect of life.”
The recipe: goat cheese blueberry cheesecake
This story was produced and originally published by the Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine. To learn about the Magazine, and to read more stories like this,click here.
Healing the invisible scars of the Ukraine conflict: IFRC and European Union launch mental health project
According to the WHO, one in five people are affected by mental health disorders in post-conflict settings. If left without treatment and adequate support, people from Ukraine face long-lasting effects that could harm themselves, their families and communities.
“Wounds of war are deep, sometimes too deep to manage alone,” says Nataliia Korniienko, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
As a Ukrainian herself who had to leave the country when the escalation began, she understands firsthand the stress faced by those fleeing conflict. “People are craving for someone to take the time to sit alongside them in their pain, but this often lacking for many fleeing Ukraine right now.”
In a regional initiative to meet this massive need, National Red Cross Societies in Ukraine and 24 EU/EAA countries have joined forces to offer mental health and psychosocial support services to hundreds of thousands of people from Ukraine. Funded by the European Union, and with technical assistance from the IFRC and the IFRC Psychosocial Centre, the project connects vulnerable people with mental health professionals and volunteers from the National Societies.
Support is offered in Ukrainian and other languages through various platforms, including helplines, mobile outreach and in-person group activities. Materials on psychosocial support in several languages are also going to be distributed among mental health professionals and the public.
Since the first days of the conflict, Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers have been assisting people at border crossing points, train stations and temporary shelters – listening and demonstrating empathy, sharing life-saving information, and taking care of vulnerable people.
Aneta Trgachevska, acting Head of Health and Care at IFRC Europe, said: “We try to reach everyone in need in a convenient, personalized way. Assistance will not be limited to just a couple of calls or meetings—a person will receive support as long as we are needed. This kind of early response can alleviate symptoms and prevent people from developing serious levels of distress or even mental health conditions.”
The content of this article is the sole responsibility of IFRC and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
| Press release
Ukraine: Six months in, IFRC warns of ripple effects and mounting humanitarian needs
Geneva/Budapest/Kyiv, 23 August 2022 – Six months into the escalation of conflict in Ukraine, humanitarian needs in and outside the country continue to grow. With the entire humanitarian system stretched, the conflict could have lasting impacts on the capacity of organizations and their donors to respond in Ukraine and to emergencies elsewhere.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Ukrainian Red Cross and 46 other Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies continue to scale up one of their largest responses in history to meet the humanitarian needs.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca says:
“People are at a critical breaking point. The human cost continues to mount, and the suffering has been unimaginable for millions. The devastating knock-on effects are only growing as the conflict drags on with rising food and fuel prices and worsening food crises. IFRC is continuing to scale up with the humanitarian need, but we cannot do it alone.”
In Ukraine and neighbouring countries, inflation, and shortages of essential products, such as fuel and food, impact the ability of people to afford basic supplies. The imminent arrival of colder weather in the weeks to come will bring additional humanitarian needs. While we have seen an incredible outpouring of generosity, these economic strains can affect how much host communities are able to assist people who have fled from conflict. On top of this, people who have fled are stuck between starting over or going back to uncertainty and potentially danger.
The conflict continues to have far-reaching consequences. The cost of food has gone up around the world. Ukraine is one of the world's biggest grain exporters. The country’s grain exports are down 46 per cent so far this year. This massive drop is having a major impact on the Greater Horn of Africa where more than 80 million are experiencing extreme hunger, the worst food crisis in the last 70 years.
As millions of people have been displaced, more than 100,000 local Red Cross volunteers and staff have rapidly mobilized in Ukraine, in bordering countries – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Belarus – and in 17 additional countries in the region.
Ukrainian Red Cross Director, General Maksym Dotsenko, says:
“People have had to leave everything behind and escape with their lives, many are living and planning day-by-day. With winter around the corner, we know that this will only become increasingly difficult for people who need the basics to survive – a warm place to live, food, goods, and services.”
“Our staff and volunteers continue to work around the clock to support people, even when many worry about their own families and their safety. Yet they continue to put on the Red Cross vest to deliver critical aid to those who need it. We are focused on being adaptable, flexible, and responsive to whatever happens next.”
Much about the future of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine remains unknown. Even if the conflict were to end tomorrow, it will take years to repair the damage to cities and homes and the impact on families. This outlook requires humanitarian organizations, governments, and donors to commit for the long term. New sources of funding and resources will have to be found outside of humanitarian budgets.
Guided by impartiality, the IFRC, along with other members of National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, will continue scaling up, providing essential humanitarian aid; cash and voucher assistance; healthcare, including mental health support, first aid and medical supplies and care; and water and sanitation.
Note to editors:
We have experts available to provide the latest information from different countries and audio-visuals for use by the media.
For more information and to arrange an interview please contact:
In Budapest: Guy Lepage, +1 (365) 885-3155 (WhatsApp) | +36 204597933 | [email protected]
In Geneva: Jenelle Eli, +1 202-603-6803 |[email protected]
"He called them hope plants": Supporting people's mental health in the Ukraine crisis
A simple search for “Kharkiv” on the internet today yields scenes of grey ash covering splintered buildings. This is how much of the world now sees Ukraine.
Far from this perception are locals’ memories of crackling fireplaces and walks under the trees—so many of which now stand lifeless.
But at least one small clump of spring green remains—a few little plants in one Kharkiv resident’s back yard. The only ones to survive raining missiles in a garden once lush and vibrant.
“He called them hope plants,” says Ana Blanco, one of 20 emergency responders from the Spanish Red Cross working in Zahony, Hungary.
“He and his wife arrived at Zahony train station with two of them, having travelled all this way from Kharkiv. And every day I’d see them take such great care and pride ensuring they stayed alive on the windowsill of the shelter.”
For this man, these plants are his token of home. And while they may not be the most practical thing to carry with him on his journey, Ana understands they are vitally important to his mental wellbeing.
Having been an emergency responder with the IFRC since 2011, Ana knows that survivors of disasters and conflicts can be resilient. She’s seen it with her own eyes while providing emergency relief in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and water and sanitation support after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
But this doesn’t mean hope always flourishes on its own.
That’s what brought Ana from her home in Valencia to Zahony—her experience teaching her that supporting the mental health of people affected by disaster or conflict is just as important as supporting their physical health.
She came with 20 fellow health specialists from the Spanish Red Cross to work alongside the Hungarian Red Cross, ensuring their teams have what they need to meet people’s immediate mental and physical health needs. And to help set up a health clinic in Zahony so they can provide effective longer-term support too.
This is not Ana’s first time supporting refugees. Twice, she has worked in camps in Greece helping refugees express their emotions through art therapy. Her eyes light up as she speaks, “It was remarkable. Even though there was a huge language barrier, we relied on universal ways of communicating.”
Whether it’s through creating art, or delicately tending to small plants on a windowsill—everyone has something to say, because everyone has something to feel. And these feelings need somewhere to go.
“I grew up in a family that has always helped people. I feel something is missing in me when I see a crisis and I can’t go – if I’m not available to respond. It’s an earthquake inside of me,” Ana explains.
It’s this innate desire to help others, to be kind to others—shared by so many millions of our Red Cross and Red Crescent family—that has motivated Ana during her time in Hungary. For many weeks she’s worked patiently to get to know so many of the people staying in Zahony and build trust with them, helping them to open up.
Speaking about another man she met early on who would sit alone on a bunk bed in the corner of the shelter, Ana says: “He didn’t want to go outside when I first met him. He’d been traveling alone, the possibility of reaching a friend abroad growing scarce.”
“Every so often, I’d say to him, ‘hope to see you at the train station!’ ‘Hope to see you around for a meal soon!’” And within a few days, she saw him emerge from the dark and step outside, interacting with her and the others.
On her last day in Zahony, Ana goes out of her way to help connect him with a helper on the other end of the phone. She finishes her mission knowing that for millions, home now looks very different to the one they once had. Many do not know where their journeys will end.
Ana holds a truth that so many disaster responders keep close to their hearts: we can never guarantee someone will be okay or that everyone will make it.But we do whatever we can to nurture seeds of hope, so that one day the lives of people affected by crises such as that in Ukraine can fully bloom again.
Click here to learn more about the IFRC's Emergency Appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries.If you would like to donate to support our work responding to this crisis, please click here.
You can also visit our mental health page to learn more about the IFRC's work providing mental health and psychosocial support around the world.
| Press release
Preventing a second crisis: Health needs extend beyond Ukraine’s borders warns IFRC
Budapest, 9 June 2022 – A crisis is emerging in the shadow of conflict across Ukraine: one that extends beyond the country’s borders. Ukraine’s already stressed healthcare system is buckling under the weight of expectation and medical needs as people continue fleeing conflict areas seeking safety. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is working around the clock to address needs far greater than what’s visible to the eye.
“We know it’s possible to prevent a secondary crisis, but no one organization or entity can do it alone,” said Xavier Castellanos Mosquera, IFRC Under Secretary General.
More than 290 health care facilities and counting across Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed during the conflict according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 1.4 million people are without running water across eastern Ukraine, while UNOCHA reports an additional 4.6 million people in the country at risk for losing access to running water -- a growing risk of water-borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea. Lack of electricity makes it impossible for water treatment and sanitation efforts to be effective.
Health systems in immediate neighbouring countries, including Romania, Belarus, Hungary and Moldova, were already stretched prior to the conflict due to COVID-19. While each country is providing health support to an increased number of people, this can divert valuable health resources away from the people who are still recovering from impacts of COVID-19. The sheer volume of current and future health needs as the conflict continues requires additional resources.
“The lack of medical supplies, health care staff and critical infrastructure grow day by day,” said Nick Prince, IFRC Emergency Health delegate. “The millions who have migrated to the western area of Ukraine and eastern European countries are at an elevated risk of infectious diseases given the overcrowded living conditions, limited access to shelter, nutritional stress and exposure to the elements.”
On top of these factors, people on the move are forced to delay treatment for existing chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer and, in the absence of vaccinations to meet safe thresholds – including for COVID-19, there is the very strong likelihood of the re-emergence of vaccine preventable diseases. Ukraine also has some of the highest burden of chronic infectious diseases in Europe, particularly HIV and Tuberculosis – a massive risk not only for displaced people themselves, but also for Ukraine’s health care system once they return.
“The Red Cross calls on governments and the international community to provide funds for inclusive access to health services and vaccines, testing and treatment, clean water and mental health and psychological support in the long-term,” said Castellanos Mosquera.
In Uzhhorod, Ukraine -- where roughly 100,000 people from conflict-torn areas have fled, doubling the city’s population -- a Red Cross health center will open this month to treat both urgent and primary care needs free of charge to all patients. It’s the first of its kind in the area. In collaboration with local authorities, the clinic aims to serve people in need for years to come. The Ukrainian Red Cross has nearly a dozen mobile health teams in the country with more on the way and is providing mental health and psychosocial support to people who have been forced to flee. In addition, food, baby supplies and hygiene items are available to anyone in need.
In Moldova, Red Cross teams are preparing to install more handwashing stations and continue to distribute hygiene kits. Access to clean water– the number one prevention mechanism for disease prevention – remains a priority. Red Cross volunteers across eastern Europe are also integrating with teams distributing emergency cash to people who have fled Ukraine to ensure they have access to critical health resources and information.
In Hungary, the Hungarian Red Cross, supported by the Spanish Red Cross has set up health posts at the border crossings to provide first aid, primary health care, mental health support and emergency relief to people arriving by train from Chop, Ukraine.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Katie Wilkes, +1 312 952 2270, [email protected]
Merlijn Stoffels, +31 65 491 8481, [email protected]
| Press release
Ukraine: Millions at risk as health concerns exacerbate vulnerabilities
Budapest/Geneva, 10 March 2022 – As the conflict continues in Ukraine and a cold front descends, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the dire health - including the spread of COVID-19 - and mental health consequences for millions of people both inside and outside of the country.
The fighting in Ukraine has continued for two weeks and no one has been left unscathed. An estimated 18 million people – a third of the country’s population – will need humanitarian assistance, and more than 2.3 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. As the lives of millions are being upended, there is a real concern of diseases spreading, pre-existing health conditions worsening and mental health concerns increasing.
“Many of the people affected were already vulnerable before the conflict and now face an even harsher situation as they are losing their homes and their livelihoods, being forced to seek shelter wherever they can or fleeing their country in search of safety. They urgently need food, water and shelter, but also emergency medical care, protective measures and psychosocial support to avert an even greater humanitarian catastrophe,” said Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe.
At the Przemyśl railway station in Poland, a woman was crying and being comforted by a volunteer from the Polish Red Cross. When asked what had happened, she answered that she had spent the whole night and day waiting for the train from Ukraine that would bring her daughter to safety. The train had finally arrived, but her daughter had not.
People fleeing conflict often experience highly distressing situations, loss and trauma, which may impact their mental health and ability to cope. Psychosocial support will be needed in the days, weeks, and months to come.
In conflict settings, public health measures to prevent diseases from spreading become extremely challenging. People are forced to shelter in crowded spaces with limited sanitary conditions or access to basic health services, which increases the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, such as tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases. The spread of COVID-19 is a particular concern as the vaccination rate in Ukraine is among the lowest in Europe with only one-third of the population having received the first dose. Ukraine also has one of the highest rates of multidrug resistant tuberculosis in the world.
Adding to what is already a desperate situation, temperatures are dropping below freezing. There is an urgent need for warm clothing and adequate shelter to shield people in temporary locations and those who are queuing at the borders from the elements, the majority of whom are women, children and older people.
“Our Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ukraine and neighbouring countries are doing their utmost to support anyone in need, in particular those who are most at-risk including unaccompanied minors, single parent households, older people, and people with disabilities. They have the full support of IFRC and our global network, but more funding is desperately needed as millions of lives are at stake. Even if the armed conflict was to end tomorrow, the humanitarian consequences will be felt for years to come,” said Bischoff Ebbesen.
Notes to editors
In Ukraine, Red Cross teams are providing first aid and first aid training, helping in reception centres and to transport people to safety, and distributing relief items, including warm clothes. Despite the mortal danger they themselves are under, 3,000 new local volunteers have stepped up to support their neighbours.
In Hungary, Red Cross teams are operating three health service points at the border. They are also running reception and collection centres where they are welcoming people crossing from Ukraine and distributing relief goods.
In Poland, where 60 per cent (more than a million) of people from Ukraine are fleeing, the Polish Red Cross has activated more than 20 rescue teams, including approximately 450 medics, who are providing round-the-clock health care and psychosocial support at five of the eight border points as well as in major cities.
In Moldova, volunteers and staff from Moldova Red Cross have provided support to approximately 200,000 people who have crossed over from Ukraine. They are at all border crossing points offering hot tea, warm food, diapers, and personal protective equipment including face masks and sanitizer. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres, assisting with food preparation and playing with children.
In Russia, Red Cross teams have delivered 187 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, to date, have provided 756 consultations. More than 160 calls have come in to the restoring family links hotline.
In Romania, volunteers and staff from the local Red Cross are at various border crossings distributing food items, water, basic necessities, hygiene products, and thousands of SIM cards to people in need. The Red Cross is helping local authorities in equipping reception centres with tents, bedding, food and hygiene and baby items. Volunteers are also visiting placement centres, playing with children and helping local staff to prepare food and other necessary support.
In Slovakia the Red Cross is at all three of the country’s border crossings, where teams are providing services such as warming shelters, referrals to essential services, and first aid. As people are quickly moving on from the border area, the Red Cross is quickly scaling up support along the routes. This support includes psychosocial support and providing child-friendly spaces; social services, particularly referrals for services such as education, healthcare and registration for legal status; providing first aid, health assessments, referrals to clinical care and COVID-19 testing.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, [email protected], +1 226 376 4013
In Budapest: Nora Peter, [email protected], +36 70 953 7709
In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected]
Read more about the IFRC's emergency appeal for Ukraine and impacted countries.
Photos and videos:
Ukraine - Romania - Hungary - Croatia - Poland - Slovakia - Russia - Moldova - IFRC Newsroom
Russia-Ukraine: International armed conflict
More than one year on from the escalation of international armed conflict in Ukraine, the devastation continues to affect every aspect of people's lives. Many of the millions who fled are unable to return home, and those who remain face dire conditions, with limited access to water, heat, health care and other essential services. The impacts on people's mental health, whether they are inside or outside of Ukraine, continue to grow. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC continues to support the Ukrainian Red Cross and other National Societies in the region who are standing side-by-side with communities, providing crucial and long-term humanitarian aid to meet a wide range of needs.
A true hero of a COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit in Hungary
Rebeka Szilágyi was working as a midwife in a hospital in Budapest when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she decided to join the Hungarian Red Cross’ H-HERO Health Emergency Response Unit. Her story illustrates the struggles and rewards of frontline volunteers:
“When the first wave of coronavirus reached Hungary and the pressure on hospitals intensified, I worked in a COVID-19 ward for six weeks. So when numbers started to rise again in autumn I volunteered, telling my boss that I would be happy to go back.
“One day in November I got a phone call saying that the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) was in dire need of help. I expected that this would be a much bigger and serious task than it was in the spring – and I was right. I have been working in the ICU for seven months now, and I don’t regret it at all: I would come again.
“The COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit where I volunteer is like an enclosed arena where you have to fight a new enemy day in and day out. You never know what challenges you’re facing that day, because every patient is different even if the illness is common to all of them.
“At first, it bothered me that after a few minutes I would be warm under the plastic coverall, double mask, glasses and three gloves, but later I didn't even notice them. Now I get caught up in tasks and sometimes realise that four or five hours have passed without me taking a sip of water, eating a bite or just sitting down. It’s a job that – as we say – can’t be finished, just stopped.
“We don’t spare time or energy for our patients, and it’s difficult to accept that sometimes nothing can be done. Our hearts squeeze as sobbing relatives come in to say goodbye to a loved one. That was the case with a patient I had a small conversation with recently, and who was put on ventilation in my shift. I saw that COVID-19 was finally crushing his system. Smiling photos of grandchildren and relatives appeared from his belongings as I prepared the inventory of his personal items. I let out a sigh, and my own family came to mind. And the people I saw the day before in the supermarket, not keeping their distance, the mask pulled down to their chin... And the social media posts where they debated how severe the situation is, how effective vaccines are.
“Our team in the hospital is fantastic. We are like a small family. On the toughest days, we keep our spirits up together. I truly look up to my colleagues: from doctors, nurses and other medics to cleaning staff, each and every one of them are true heroes! I am proud to be one of them, to work with them.
“The situations I have experienced over the last months have left a deep impression on me. I have learned a lot in terms of humility and perseverance in addition to professional knowledge. The desire to help – the reason why I chose healthcare for a living – has become stronger in me. But, along with my colleagues, I am of course looking forward to the end of this devasting pandemic.”
Hungary has registered more than 808,000 confirmed cases and 30,000 deaths linked to COVID-19. With support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Hungarian Red Cross has significantly scaled up both prevention and response activities. These include awareness-raising initiatives; direct support to hospitals with equipment, material resources and volunteers, logistical assistance, help with testing and vaccination, and operating the dispatch centre of the national ambulance service.
Hungarian Red Cross
| Press release
Red Cross assists storm-affected Hungarian villages with 67 million forints
Budapest, 18 July 2019 – Hungarian Red Cross is helping 7,200 people affected by severe storms in late June, with financial and technical assistance from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
IFRC has contributed 230,000 Swiss francs (67.3 million Hungarian forints) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to allow Hungarian Red Cross to assist 2,400 families with food, sanitary kits and construction materials.
The storm hit eastern Hungary on 27 June, causing serious damage in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, particularly in the settlements of Nyírmada, Nyírkarász, Pusztadobos and Rétközberencs.
2,500 rooftops were destroyed by the rain, and 30 families had to be evacuated as their homes became uninhabitable. The storm also ravaged kitchen gardens and crops, jeopardizing the livelihoods of many families.
Together with local authorities and civil society groups, the local branch of Hungarian Red Cross immediately deployed 30 staff and volunteers who helped remove debris and cleaned the roads.
István Kardos, Director General of the Hungarian Red Cross said: "With our network of volunteers on the ground we are able to help quickly and efficiently in such situations. Although the immediate needs were met, full recovery in the affected communities will require a lot more time and resources. Therefore, we are launching a fundraising campaign to help as many families as possible.”
With the IFRC emergency funds, Hungarian Red Cross will distribute one month’s supply of dry food as well as sanitary cleaning kits for 2,400 families. It will also supply construction materials for skilled volunteers to do temporary repairs to damaged roofs.
The humanitarian operation started today at Nyírmada, where Hungarian Red Cross volunteers and local government staff started the distribution of aid to the affected families.
Elkhan Rahimov, IFRC’s acting Regional Director for Europe said: “As a result of climate change, extreme weather events are occurring more frequently in Europe. This poses a challenge to humanitarian organizations as society’s most vulnerable are often the ones who are most exposed to forces of nature.”
Photos of the damage are available here.
Those wishing to contribute to Hungarian Red Cross storm local appeal can do so here.
Hungarian Red Cross is a member of the IFRC. One of the key disaster management tools available for members is the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Following a disaster, within 48 hours, emergency funding can be applied for and distributed, enabling Red Cross staff and volunteers on the ground to respond quickly.
| Press release
Red Cross urges public to check on neighbours as Europe braces for heatwave
Budapest/Geneva, 25 June 2019 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on people to check on vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends as Western Europe readies itself for possible record high temperatures.
According to European meteorological offices, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland can expect temperatures in the mid to high-30s during the week, with temperatures potentially climbing to 40°C in Paris on Thursday (27 June).
IFRC’s Europe Region health coordinator Dr Davron Mukhamadiev said:
“The coming days will be challenging for a lot of people, but especially older people, young children, and people with underlying illnesses or limited mobility.
“Our message this week is simple: look after yourself, your family and your neighbours. A phone call or a knock on the door could save a life.”
Across Western Europe, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on high alert. In France, volunteers are patrolling the streets, providing water and hygiene kits and visiting isolated and older people in their homes.
“If necessary, the emergency operations centre at our headquarters can be opened to coordinate the response to this emergency,” said French Red Cross spokesperson Alain Rissetto.
In Spain, 50 staff in the Red Cross operations centre are currently calling vulnerable and older people to check they are safe and to give advice on how to cope with the heat. And in Belgium volunteers are distributing water and checking on older community members.
Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heat extremes globally, underscoring the urgent need to manage heatwave risks effectively and to prevent avoidable strain being put on already stretched health care services. The risks are particularly high in cities, where the impacts can be most severe.
Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003, for example, an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe.
Next month, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre will launch new guidelines designed to help cities better support their vulnerable residents during heatwaves.