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18/11/2021 | Press release

Joint statement by IFRC and ICRC on migration crisis at the borders between Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and other countries

Budapest/Geneva - November 18, 2021 - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are alarmed by the humanitarian tragedy unfolding at the borders between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. At least 10 people are known to have died, including a 14-year-old boy due to hypothermia.The situation is set to worsen with the most serious winter weather yet to arrive. IFRC has allocated more than 1 million Swiss Francs to Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross, whose volunteers and staff are assisting thousands of vulnerable people with food, water, blankets and vital medical assistance.ICRC is complementing the response, providing support and additional technical expertise to Red Cross partners, notably to keep migrants in contact with their relatives and other protection-related issues. Birgitte Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said: “There are extremely vulnerable people at the border, including people with disabilities, pregnant women, and hundreds of children – many of them without a parent or family member. They have been sleeping rough in freezing conditions for many days now. Our volunteers have been able to provide some assistance, but many are still hungry and cold. These are mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, people whose lives matter, and they should be protected and treated with compassion and dignity.” Martin Schüepp, ICRC Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said: “To protect people’s lives, health and dignity, as well as ease suffering and prevent further tragedy, all Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and other humanitarian organisations need immediate, unrestricted access to all migrants, including at borders. The ICRC is providing support and additional technical expertise to our Red Cross partners, on reuniting people with separated family members and other protection-related issues.” All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity. ENDS For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact: In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Budapest: Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected] In Geneva: Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected] In Geneva: Ruth Hetherington, +33 6 33 28 88 23, [email protected] --- СОВМЕСТНОЕ ЗАЯВЛЕНИЕ МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ И МККК О МИГРАЦИОННОМ КРИЗИСЕ НА ГРАНИЦАХ БЕЛАРУСИ С ПОЛЬШЕЙ, ЛИТВОЙ И ДРУГИМИ СТРАНАМИ Для спасения жизней и облегчения страданий гуманитарным организациям срочно необходим неограниченный и безопасный доступ к пострадавшим Будапешт/Женева - 18 ноября 2021Международная Федерация обществ Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца (Международная Федерация) и Международный Комитет Красного Креста (МККК) всерьез обеспокоены гуманитарной трагедией, разворачивающейся на белорусско-польской и белорусско-литовской границах. По подтвержденным данным, от переохлаждения скончались как минимум десять человек, в том числе мальчик 14 лет. С приближением суровой зимы ситуация будет только ухудшаться. Международная Федерация выделила более 1 миллиона швейцарских франков национальным обществам Красного Креста Беларуси, Польши и Литвы, чьи добровольцы и сотрудники снабжают тысячи беззащитных людей продовольствием, водой и одеялами и оказывают им жизненно необходимую медицинскую помощь. МККК содействует усилиям своих партнеров по краснокрестному движению, предоставляя им практическую помощь и рекомендации, в частности для поддержания контактов между мигрантами и их родственниками и в связи с другими вопросами предоставления защиты. «Среди скопившихся на границе людей есть те, кто находится в крайне уязвимом положении, в том числе инвалиды, беременные женщины и сотни детей, многие из которых остались без сопровождения родителей или родственников. Уже много дней подряд все они вынуждены ночевать на морозе, прямо под открытым небом. Нашим добровольцам удается оказать им какую-то помощь, но многие по-прежнему страдают от голода и холода. Эти люди — чьи-то матери, сестры, сыновья и дочери. Их жизни имеют значение. Они имеют право на защиту, сострадание и достойное обращение», — заявила Биргитта Эббесен, директор Европейского регионального офиса Международной Федерации. «Чтобы защитить жизнь, здоровье и человеческое достоинство этих людей, облегчить их страдания и не допустить новых трагедий, всем составным частям Международного движения Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца и другим гуманитарным организациям срочно необходим неограниченный доступ ко всем мигрантам, в том числе на границах. МККК помогает своим партнерам по Движению и делится с ними опытом в деле воссоединения разлученных родственников и по другим вопросам предоставления защиты», — отметил Мартин Шюпп, глава Регионального управления оперативной деятельности МККК в Европе и Центральной Азии. Все мигранты, независимо от их правового статуса, должны иметь эффективный доступ к гуманитарной и медицинской помощи и должны пользоваться защитой. Их права — будь то на международную защиту или на добровольное возвращение домой — должны соблюдаться во всякое время, и власти должны воздерживаться от того, чтобы разлучать родственников и подвергать опасности здоровье и физическую неприкосновенность людей. КОНЕЦ Получить более подробную информацию или договориться о проведении интервью можно, обратившись к: Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected] (Будапешт) Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] (Будапешт) Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected] (Женева) Ruth Hetherington, +33 6 33 28 88 23, [email protected] (Женева)

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15/11/2021 | Press release

Action needed now to prevent further loss of life on the Belarus border

Budapest, 15 November 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for an urgent de-escalation of the situation at the Belarus-Poland border and for access for humanitarian organisations, to prevent more deaths. At least 10 migrants are thought to have died as conditions reach below freezing along the 1000km border between Belarus and neighbouring countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. “We are concerned about the increasingly serious situation on the Poland-Belarus border, after large groups of migrants arrived there on November 8. We call for access for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations so that all people in need, at the border and other locations, can receive medical treatment, humanitarian assistance and protection services,” said Andreas von Weissenberg, IFRC Europe’s head of Disasters, Climate and Crises. “While Belarus Red Cross has thankfully been given some access to provide vital life-saving aid to people enduring hunger and freezing conditions, we need that access to be regular and also get access on the other side of the border. People need to be treated humanely,” von Weissenberg said. An estimated 2,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the border. Belarus Red Cross has been coordinating aid from partners since November 9, distributing food, water, blankets and warm clothes. 50 staff and volunteers are involved in a continuous response to the situation with migrants, 20 of them are involved sorting and distributing packages, as well as helping authorities set up heating tents for women and children. Belarus Red Cross has also provided food, clothing and hygiene kits for three children who were hospitalised in Grodno and is assisting migrantswho come to its office in Minsk. Andreas von Weissenberg said Polish Red Cross has also been responding to this crisis for several weeks. “They are working with authorities to deliver blankets, sleeping bags and clothes. Local branches are supporting migrants in Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces, near the border, with food, water and hygiene kits. They are providing first aid and helping people trace family members. But they need unhindered access to migrants at the border in line with our humanitarian mandate and in accordance with our fundamental principles. “Access to humanitarian assistance and to protection in the territory must go hand in hand. All migrants arriving at the EU’s borders should be able to effectively apply for international protection and receive an individualised assessment of their claim, in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention and applicable EU law,” von Weissenberg explained. IFRC is in the process of providing Belarus Red Cross with emergency funding. It has already allocated 429,426 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help Polish Red Cross support up to 4,300 migrants with food, clothes, hygiene items, first aid and family reunification services. IFRC has also allocated 338,885 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to help Lithuanian Red Cross support up to 4,000 migrants with medicine, clothes, hygiene kits, personal protective equipment against COVID-19, family reunification and psychosocial support services. In total the financial support provided by IFRC to the three Red Cross Societies will be more than 1 million Swiss francs. Lithuanian Red Cross teams have been supporting migrants close to the border with water, hygiene kits, footwear and clothing, as well as toys for children. In five large reception centres volunteers provide food and other humanitarian aid, offer psychological support and legal assistance and help people reconnect with their loved ones by providing mobile phones and SIM cards. But more needs to be done. “Humanitarian organizations must be granted unconditional and safe access to all people in need, irrespective of their legal status. People are crossing the border with just the clothes on their backs. They need food, medicine, hygiene items, clothing, and protective equipment against COVID-19. We must be allowed to deliver critical assistance and we want to see a peaceful, humane and rights-based solution to the situation,” von Weissenberg concluded. Photos of the Red Cross response can be found here For more information, please contact: In Budapest: Georgia Trismpioti, +30 697 180 9031, [email protected] In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]

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26/03/2018 | Press release

Red Cross warns of risk to thousands as floods in Europe threaten to worsen

Budapest, 25 March 2018 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning tens of thousands of people across the Balkans and Eastern Europe could be at risk from flooding as extreme weather is set to worsen this week. A sudden rise in temperature has seen snow and ice thaw rapidly, swelling rivers and lakes. This combined with heavy rain has caused flooding across swathes of Europe including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Montenegro and Romania. In Eastern Europe, Belarus was the hardest hit with more than 50,000 people affected and hundreds of homes submerged. Kazakhstan has also seen flooding in the east. Hundreds of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers have been helping with evacuations and providing emergency supplies like food and drinking water for thousands of people in flood-hit towns and villages. IFRC Regional Director for Europe, Simon Missiri, said: “Given the forecast for the next few days and weeks, we’re expecting tough times ahead that could put thousands more people in danger. “We have already seen weather patterns change rapidly - from snow and freezing temperatures to heavy rain and rapidly melting ice, within the space of a few days. This looks set to continue. “Thousands of people have already seen homes swamped with water and villages have been completely cut off in some cases.” Water dumped from hydro-electric power plant reservoirs in Albania to protect the integrity of dams is causing levels in lakes and basins to rise - causing concern in the country and neighbouring Montenegro. Red Cross emergency teams are working with emergency services in Montenegro and preparing for major flooding. Croatia has been among the hardest hit by floods so far with heavy rain causing seven landslides in the last two weeks which wiped out homes and left roads blocked. More than 200 Croatian Red Cross volunteers and staff have been responding, with specialist boat teams also sent to villages left marooned.

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