| 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]
| 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.
Red Cross Society of the Republic of Moldova