Ukraine crisis: Red Cross health centre in Uzhhorod offers relief and comfort
Like many cities in the western part of Ukraine, the health system in Uzhhorod has been overwhelmed. Located near the border with Hungary and Slovakia, the city’s population has increased dramatically with tens of thousands of people seeking refuge.
To help meet the growing medical needs of the new arrivals and relieve some of the pressure on local medical facilities, the Ukrainian Red Cross opened a temporary Health Centre in Uzhhorod with the support of IFRC and the Finnish Red Cross.
The centre offers consultation, treatment and medication free of charge for people in need. It’s open to everyone, local community members and internally displaced people alike.
Medical specialists are assisting people of all ages with their health issues. There’s an on-site pharmacist prescribing medications and a psychologist available for consultation and psychosocial support.
"Medications for the heart and blood pressure are the ones prescribed most often. People lived through stressful situations, and it affects their health,” explains pharmacist Olesya Verbovska, who works there with her twin sister Oksana.
"People had to leave their homes in a hurry, so they couldn’t bring their regular medication with them. They’re grateful that the Red Cross provides medicine free of charge.”
Many patients come from temporary shelters. One of them is 72-year-old Oleksandr Ivanovich from Luhansk who’s staying at the local school. He came to the Health Centre for a blood test and ultrasound.
"The only thing I can say is thank you – I’m grateful to everyone who cares for us.”
17-year-old Daryna from Donetsk visited the Red Cross Health Centre with her mother, grandparents and younger brother. Her family members are experiencing many health problems, including allergies and stomach pains. They heard about the health centre from other displaced people in town.
"It’s great to have a hospital like this that helps people like us,” Daryna said.
Some of the doctors and volunteers working at the Health Centre have also been affected by the conflict, like Dr. Nataliia Vasylivna, a family doctor from Donetsk.
"When patients are withdrawn, I tell them that I’m a displaced person just like them. This helps them relax and connect with me. After that, they speak more openly about their problems,” she said.
She’s seeing between 15 to 20 patients a day. Some of the most common conditions she is treating are heart diseases, high blood pressure and allergic reactions.
"Many patients are also showing signs of chronic stress and start crying as soon as they feel the sympathy from me,” she adds.
The health centre also provides psychosocial support six days a week, for adults and children alike. And two volunteers who are doing that can also relate to what patients are experiencing.
Daria from Odesa and Ostap from Kyiv both came to Uzhhorod fleeing from the conflict, and started volunteering for the Red Cross there. While helping people deal with their challenges, they got to know each other and have been a couple since May.
"We are never bored when we volunteer together. Working with kids can be difficult sometimes, but Ostap is always there to help me,” Daria said.
"Daria is an extraordinary person, I have never met anyone like her. We both have a strong urge to help others, and it’s much easier to do with someone you love,” said Ostap.
| 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]
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 the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and Ukraine have joined forces to offer mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 300,000 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 six 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.
"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.
Ukraine and impacted countries crisis
Due to the conflict escalation in Ukraine, millions of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. The Ukrainian Red Cross is helping people affected by the conflict as the security situation allows. National Societies in surrounding countries, with support from the IFRC, are assisting people leaving Ukraine with shelter, basic aid items, cash assistance, medical supplies and treatment. People from Ukraine will need long-term, ongoing support. Our priority is addressing the humanitarian needs of all people affected by the conflict, inside and outside Ukraine.
| 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]
100 Days of Crisis: Fleeing Home, Returning to Joy
We had already packed our passports in the bag. Living in Kyiv, we were already witnessing tension in the air and watching the news of what was happening near the border of Ukraine. We had accepted we would probably need to seek safety outside the house at some point.
But that night came so much sooner than we expected. Loud bangs and flashes through the window startled us awake, crisis landing at our doorstep.
My seven-year-old daughter and I traveled to our relatives’ home just a few hours away. It was anything but an easy decision to leave our cozy, familiar home on the edge of the city next to the woods where we loved to walk on the weekends. We were so happy there, but we knew it was no longer safe for us to stay.
The journey was surreal. Music on the car radio was playing as if nothing was happening, yet all around us were sounds of war. And no sooner than when we arrived at our family’s home, we realized it was yet again too dangerous to stay.
Over the next several days, we continued moving from place to place moving toward the western part of Ukraine, expecting the conflict to follow us.
The upheaval took a toll quickly, especially on my daughter. I am a professional psychologist by training, so I knew exactly what to look out for to identify those signs of severe stress. Several times a night, we woke up to the sound of air sirens and alarms. She refused to sleep in her pajamas and instead insisted to sleep in winter clothes. She did not sleep at all, really. For fear of having to get back up and seek safety. She was scared all the time, her toy bear providing only so much comfort.
That was when I knew we needed to leave the country. We knew a few people in Poland, also from Ukraine, who had been helped by the welcoming Polish community. They had gone above and beyond to help shelter families fleeing Ukraine.
Everything about my life was turned upside-down overnight. Even the familiarity with my profession as a humanitarian worker and psychologist for the International Committee of the Red Cross, (ICRC). There, my job was to support families of missing persons in Ukraine. But when the conflict started, we all switched gears, fully focused on the emergency in front of us.
I was one of the original staff members who trained Red Cross volunteers in providing psychosocial first aid to people in distress. Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers put so much effort from the very beginning of the crisis into helping people in need. I also taught them how to recognize if they needed to seek help for themselves. And now, it seemed we all needed that.
Having worked with the Red Cross for years, I tried to do my best to support them in their lifesaving work using my skills.
Together with my ICRC team, we created hotlines for people who needed psychological help – the same support I needed myself.
Crossing the border to Poland, we were welcomed by kind volunteers just as we were when we were on the way in Ukraine. Volunteers provided us food, and toys for my daughter-simple acts that made me feel so much better. This, I noticed, seemed to be a turning point for my daughter, and soon she was back to sleeping and playing with the other kids.
Not long after we arrived in Poland, I was at the bank when a woman also from Ukraine heard my voice – the same language she spoke and started sharing her own story with me. She started to cry. That was when I knew she needed me to listen.
She wanted to share her story with someone who would take the time to sit alongside her in her pain. It’s what so many people crave, often lacking words to express it. It became clear to me that this was a way I could contribute using my skills, especially now that I had more capacity to care for others while feeling safe myself.
I reached out to my colleagues at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and am now helping to lead a program in countries neighbouring Ukraine to provide mental health and psychosocial support to people who have fled Ukraine, which includes many different activities where volunteers can support people by using psychological first aid skills, organizing child-friendly spaces, offering referrals to other service providers and much more.
Wounds of war are deep, sometimes too deep to manage alone.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back home and help my people in Ukraine. It’s still not safe to return. For now, I can only plan a few days ahead. When I can – when any of us can – we’ll return home to that simple joy we once felt before.
Nataliia K is a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She helps give back to people who have endured more than 100 days of crisis at home in Ukraine. She is from Kyiv.
IFRC scales up cash assistance to people impacted by conflict in Ukraine
Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move.
IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said:
“The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.”
The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location.
The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.
“This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued.
Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities.
Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.”
Watch: our response 3 months on
During the past three months:
Together, we have reached more than 2.1million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict.
Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we've set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance.
In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid.
71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.
Ukraine conflict: How the Red Cross provides much-needed support to people leaving the country
They arrive at the border between Ukraine and Slovakia exhausted after two or three days of travelling. Some come by car. Many others are on foot, carrying bags, dragging suitcases.
Since late February, nearly 6 million people have fled Ukraine to seek safety in other countries.
There are women and there are children. Many, many children. The few men in the line up tend to be older. The younger ones have largely stayed behind to support their country in the conflict.
The youngsters help the weary and worried adults carry their few precious belongings. They wear backpacks with teddy bears attached. One little girl carries her own bag of diapers. While some little ones cling to their mothers with all the strength their tiny hands can muster, older ones run about, excited about the adventure they have been told they are on. Their mothers scramble to corral them.
People come to this border at Uzhhorod crossing all hours of the day and night. Volunteers with the Ukrainian Red Cross greet them. They provide information, food, hot drinks, clothing, and blankets. Decked out in their vibrant red emergency uniforms, they help carry people’s belongings up to the border crossing. Some need wheelchairs and the volunteers jump up to help. Once they cross the border, they will be welcomed by volunteers from the Slovak Red Cross.
Olexander Bodnar is the 23-year-old man who heads up the volunteer team for the Ukrainian Red Cross in Uzhhorod, at the country’s western border. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the team takes shifts at this crossing.
“My team are the most wonderful people on the earth,” he says. “We have so many kind people who have joined us. We have 130 volunteers who have signed up since the conflict began. Many are nurses and doctors.”
Medical skills are highly valued. In a newly constructed building, the Red Cross has set up a small clinic, stocked with things like baby food and diapers. Cots line one side of the clinic as a place for weary travellers to rest, if only for a little while. It is here that the volunteers perform basic first aid. Many of the older people complain of rising blood pressure. Trained volunteers check it and tell me that most of the time, it’s fine. They are under extreme stress, and some experience panic attacks – a normal reaction during an abnormal event.
Olexander shares a story about an older woman who was leaving her beloved country with her husband, who had just had surgery:
“She fell to her knees and asked God to protect her country. She said ‘My dear Ukraine, please forgive me. I don’t want to leave you, but I must.’”
Tears filled Olexander’s eyes as he helped the couple approach the border crossing.
The IFRC is supporting the Ukrainian Red Cross, and many other Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the surrounding region, to help people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Learn more about our work here.
| Press release
IFRC to support more than 2 million people affected by the conflict in Ukraine with its largest ever rollout of emergency cash assistance
Geneva, 14 April 2022 – As the needs of people impacted by the conflict in Ukraine continue to grow, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up its response activities to meet immediate and urgent needs, both inside Ukraine and within the countries people have fled to seeking safety.
Secretary General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, says:
“This will be IFRC’s most extensive emergency cash programme. Our number one priority is getting support to people who are most vulnerable. From our previous experience with cash assistance, we know it is a dignified approach to providing aid as quickly and efficiently as possible. While financial assistance is a major component of our response, we’re also scaling up across many other sectors including health. We have already reached 160,000 people with healthcare and first aid support, but the longer the conflict continues, the more extensive the health needs will become.”
In its largest emergency financial assistance programme to date, IFRC aims to reach more than 2 million people with support, targeting 360,000 people in Ukraine and neighbouring countries within the first three months. Longer-term financial assistance will address the needs of affected people as the crisis evolves.
IFRC Regional Director for Europe Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, says:
“With every day that passes, we know vulnerabilities increase. Access to medical supplies, food, water, utilities, and other vital goods and services deteriorates. We know there are so many uncertainties for people right now, but one thing that’s clear is the needs are immense, and they will be for a long time.”
IFRC is supporting more than 1 million people with over 1,800 metric tonnes of hygiene and kitchen items, blankets, food, mats and tarpaulins in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
The IFRC Secretariat with its member National Societies have launched a Federation-wide response plan for 1.2 billion Swiss francs, which aims to assist 3.6 million people over two years, with multi-purpose cash assistance, health & care and water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as shelter and housing support. Globally, more than 55 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have supported the response to date. The IFRC Secretariat is supporting this response plan by appealing for 550 million Swiss francs to scale up support to National Societies in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
In Ukraine: Caroline Haga, +358 50 5980500, [email protected]
In Poland: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603-6803, [email protected]
In Romania: Angela Hill, +40 758 450 185, [email protected]
In Budapest: Nicole Robicheau, +36 30 167 2629, [email protected]
In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376-4013 [email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
Learn more about the IFRC's work in cash and voucher assistance here.
Red Cross in Ukraine: Your questions answered
This page addresses frequently asked questions about the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s work during the Ukraine crisis. It will be regularly updated with new information and questions.
Kuwaiti Red Crescent and Egyptian Red Crescent support people fleeing Ukraine
Since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, Kuwait Red Crescent Society and Egyptian Red Crescent Society teams have rushed to provide humanitarian relief to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine. The Kuwaiti Red Crescent has provided food, medical aid, and necessary supplies to fleeing people affected by the conflict. While the Egyptian Red Crescent has assisted and evacuated Egyptians from Poland and Romania, and provided humanitarian support to others affected alike, including Arabic-speaking people.
Dr. Hilal Al Sayer, President of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) said after meeting his Polish counterpart, Jery Bisek: “Kuwaiti aid includes medicines, medical supplies, food, milk for children and other necessities, and it reflects the Kuwaiti leadership and people’s solidarity with affected people living under such difficult circumstances.”
Al-Sayer affirmed his country’s keenness to participate in humanitarian relief in all parts of the world, in line with the Kuwaiti humanitarian obligations. He stressed the need to further explore all ways to enhance cooperation and joint coordination to help alleviate the suffering of refugees from Ukraine, with partner organizations in the humanitarian field and with the Polish Red Cross.
In turn, the President of the Polish Red Cross expressed his appreciation and gratitude after a Kuwaiti military aid plane loaded with relief materials and medical aid, estimated at 33.5 tons, arrived at Warsaw Airport in Poland.
Bisek said: “The Kuwaiti Red Crescent is one of the first National Society responders that stepped in to provide the necessary support and assistance for those fleeing Ukraine”, adding that "the needs are still massive".
In parallel, the Egyptian Red Crescent Society continues to provide aid and support to the Egyptian students and families it helped evacuate safely home after they had fled to Poland and Romania.
Volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure transportation for Egyptians fleeing from Ukraine across the borders of Poland and Romania to the airport. They also provided them with free hotel accommodation and food, travel documents, cash assistance, medical services, and psychological support.
Students and their families expressed deep gratitude to the Egyptian Red Crescent Society for standing by their side in this ordeal, meeting their needs, and ensuring their safe return to their home country.
The Egyptian Red Crescent Society, in collaboration with Polish and Romanian Red Cross Societies, has also established two relief centres at the Ukrainian-Romanian and Ukrainian-Polish borders to provide aid to Egyptians, Arabic speakers and others fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, especially women and children.
The Egyptian Red Crescent Society also published a slogan on its Facebook page “Safety and Relief Without Discrimination’.
Prior to the conflict, 6000 Egyptians lived in Ukraine, 3,000 of whom are students enrolled in the country’s universities.
| Press release
Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers provide life-saving aid to people in need
Geneva, 27 March 2022 - Red Cross volunteers have reached hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine since the conflict began one month ago with life-saving aid, despite the dangers they face and the fact that they are also affected.
Maksym Dotsenko, Director General at Ukrainian Red Cross says:
“Many of our staff and volunteers are also experiencing the conflict first-hand. They are worried about their families and their safety, and yet they continue to put on the Red Cross vest to deliver critical aid to neighbors and strangers alike. This is the true spirit of the principle of volunteerism upon which the Red Cross is based.”
That spirit of wanting to help is being reflected among the general population. Since the conflict started, 6,000 new volunteers, among them teachers and medical professionals, have joined the Ukrainian Red Cross.
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain says:
“Volunteers of the Ukrainian Red Cross have been on the ground from day one despite the risks. Many of them have suffered and lost loved ones in this conflict. As the conflict enters its second month, their ongoing support is increasingly critical as needs continue to rise and access remains heavily restricted. We stand by these men and women, offering solidarity and support. We honor their courageous work and commitment to helping others.”
The IFRC network has established logistics pipelines from Poland, Hungary, and Romania to allow for the delivery of life-saving aid into Ukraine, supporting the Ukrainian Red Cross Society in areas most saturated with internally displaced persons. In the past month, the Ukrainian Red Cross teams have reached more than 400,000 people in the country with more than 1,600 tons of essential goods distributed. They have supported the evacuation of over 79,000 people from Energodar, Sumy, Kyiv region, Kharkiv and Kherson region. Also, in addition to providing first aid, they are teaching people sheltering underground how to provide it themselves.
An estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced within Ukraine, the majority of whom are women and children, people living with disabilities, older people and minority groups, the UNHCR reports. The IFRC is supporting the work of National Red Cross Societies in neighboring countries responding to the needs of the 3.5 million people who have fled Ukraine with cash grants, shelter, basic aid items, health care, psychosocial support and medical supplies. Among these groups, a special focus is on vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, older people, and people living with disabilities.
For related AV materials: https://www.ifrcnewsroom.org
In Ukraine: Caroline Haga, +358 50 5980500, [email protected]
In Poland: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603-6803, [email protected]
In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376-4013 [email protected]
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
| Press release
“In Ukraine, the needs are growing every day,” says Red Cross President
Bucharest, 21 March 2022 - As the world’s largest humanitarian network responds to the unfolding crisis in Europe, its leadership returns from Ukraine with a warning about the coming days and weeks — and reaffirms that the Red Cross will strengthen support inside and outside its borders.
Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), connected with some of the 6,000 Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers delivering aid to families experiencing the worst weeks of their lives.
“The devastating reality of Ukraine is that the needs are growing every day. Amidst increased violence and a disrupted supply chain, delivering essential goods in many parts of the country is getting harder — not easier. Responding to a crisis of this magnitude takes teamwork, which is why we’re working hand-in-hand with the Ukrainian Red Cross on the ground to let people know that they’re not alone. Not ever,” states Rocca.
Since the conflict began, the Ukrainian Red Cross has distributed hundreds of tons of essential goods and team members have supported the evacuation of approximately 57,000 people from Energodar, Sumy, Kviy region, Kharkiv and Kherson region. The Ukrainian Red Cross is not only providing first aid, but also teaching it to people who are taking cover in basements and shelters.
No one in Ukraine is left unscathed by the ongoing conflict. An estimated 18 million people — or one-third of the population — will require humanitarian assistance.
“Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers have lost homes, communities, and loved ones. Yet, they keep doing the work of delivering aid and comfort to families in need. I am humbled by their resilience and their commitment to humanitarianism in the midst of conflict.”
Speaking from the Romanian border in Siret, Mr. Rocca stressed the altruistic nature of community members around Europe welcoming the more than 3 million people who have fled Ukraine.
After Poland, Romania has received the second highest number of people crossing its borders in search of safety: more than 500,000 according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Romanian Red Cross teams have been working 24/7 at border crossings since day one, providing items such as food, water, diapers, feminine hygiene products, warm gloves, and other necessities. The Romanian Red Cross is offering SIM cards and mobile charging stations — to help people who have been separated from their loved ones in Ukraine to reconnect. Many who have crossed the border simply ask for a cup of coffee or tea. Seemingly simple aid like this can offer families peace of mind in an otherwise hopeless moment.
“We have provided more than 400 tons of aid to those affected by the conflict, but a hot drink and a warm welcome is what many of those fleeing say they appreciate most,” says Rocca.
In Romania and Ukraine: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 797 084 367, [email protected]
In Romania: Jenelle Eli, +1 202 603 6803, [email protected]
In Budapest: Kathy Mueller, +1 226 376 4013, [email protected]
In Geneva: Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, +41 79 213 24 13, [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
| Press release
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appeals for 250 million Swiss francs to assist people affected by Ukraine conflict
Geneva, 1 March 2022 - With the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and neighbouring countries deteriorating rapidly, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) fear that millions of people face extreme hardship and suffering without improved access and a rapid increase in humanitarian assistance. To respond to this sudden, massive need, the two organizations together are appealing for 250 million Swiss francs ($272 million).
The ICRC is appealing for 150 million Swiss francs ($163 million) for its 2022 operations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
ICRC Director General Robert Mardini said:
“The escalating conflict in Ukraine is taking a devastating toll. Casualty figures keep rising while health facilities struggle to cope. We already see long-term disruptions in regular water and electricity supplies. People calling our hotline in Ukraine are desperately in need of food and shelter. To respond to this massive emergency, our teams must be able to operate safely to access those in need.”
In the coming weeks, the ICRC will increase its work reuniting separated families, providing food and other household items to the internally displaced, increasing awareness about areas contaminated by unexploded ordnance, and carrying out its work to ensure that dead bodies are treated with dignity and that family members of the deceased can grieve and find closure. Water trucking and other emergency water delivery is now needed. Support to health facilities will be increased, with a focus on providing supplies and equipment to care for people wounded by weapons.
The IFRC is appealing for 100 million Swiss francs ($109 million) to support National Red Cross Societies to assist an initial two million people in need due to intensified hostilities in Ukraine
Among these groups, a special focus will be on vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, elderly, and people with disabilities. Investment will be significantly increased in capacity building of Red Cross teams in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to bolster locally led humanitarian action. They have already mobilized thousands of volunteers and staff and are providing life-saving assistance such as shelter, basic aid items, medical supplies, mental health and psychosocial support and multi-purpose cash assistance to as many people as possible.
IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain said:
"In the middle of so much suffering, it is heart-warming to see the level of global solidarity. The needs of the people affected by the conflict are increasing by the hour. The situation is very desperate for many. A rapid response is needed to save lives. Our member National Societies are uniquely positioned to respond, and, in some contexts, they are the only actor that can deliver humanitarian assistance at scale, but they need support to make it happen. I call for global solidarity to ramp up the assistance to people suffering because of this conflict.”
For more information or to arrange interviews:
In Geneva: Anna Tuson, +41 79 895 6924, [email protected]
In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
In Geneva: Florian Seriex, +41 79 574 06 36, [email protected]
In Geneva: Jason Straziuso, +41 79 949 3512, [email protected]
| Press release
Red Cross providing life-saving assistance for hundreds of thousands displaced from Ukraine
Budapest/Geneva, 28 February 2022 – The conflict in Ukraine is shaping up to be one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies in Europe for years to come, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
As the fighting continues for the fifth day, millions of people in Ukraine desperately need safe drinking water and food, as roads are impassable, and electricity and water supplies are cut off. The most pressing needs are emergency medical care, medicine, clean water and shelter for people who have had to leave their homes.
In recent days, the Ukrainian Red Cross has provided first aid training for more than 2,000 people sheltering in metro stations and bomb shelters so they can help treat family and friends in the event of injury. Its volunteers are helping to evacuate people with disabilities and emergency response teams are assisting firefighters, medical and civil protection teams – helping to save many lives. The National Society has already distributed its complete stock of 30,000 food and hygiene parcels for people on the move. Volunteers are also helping at reception centres set up in schools and coordinating with the Polish Red Cross to assist people at the border.
“Our teams are fully committed to helping as many people as possible. At the moment, it is often too dangerous to be outside and we cannot reach people without risking our own lives, but we continue to try our best. Yet, in the past few days, more than a thousand people have joined as Red Cross volunteers, which shows just how keen people are to help their communities in these dark times,” says Maksym Dotsenko, Director General of the Ukrainian Red Cross.
Due to the armed conflict, hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. As of 28 February afternoon, UNHCR reports that at least 500,000 people have left, but the number is growing by the hour as people queue at border crossing points.
To support the Ukrainian Red Cross and National Societies in neighbouring countries, the IFRC has already released one million Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, ahead of a multi-million francs Emergency Appeal to be launched tomorrow.
Red Cross teams in Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia have immediately mobilized to help people arriving from Ukraine. Temporary accommodation has been set up along the borders to offer shelter or respite for the night. Volunteers are distributing food, water, bedding, clothes and basic aid items on both sides of the border and providing medical care and psychosocial support for those in need. They’re also handing out SIM cards, so that people can stay in touch with their loved ones.
“It is heart-breaking to see so many individual tragedies unfold at our doorstep. Humanitarian actors like National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies should be given safe access to people who are injured, hungry and desperate, no matter who or where they are. There’s no end in sight for this conflict, and no telling when people can safely return home. Until that day, we will be there to support them,” says Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe.
For more information, please contact:
In Budapest: Nora Peter, +36 70 265 4020, [email protected]
In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
In Geneva: Caroline Haga, +358 50 598 0500, [email protected]
Photos and videos:
| Press release
IFRC: Delta variant a huge threat in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia
Budapest/Geneva, 6 August 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more assistance and for vaccinations to be stepped up in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where rising COVID-19 cases and deaths triggered by the Delta variant are putting health systems under severe strain.
Europe now has one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the world and has just passed 60 million coronavirus infections. There were sharp increases throughout July – and more than one million cases reported in the last seven days alone[i].
As the majority of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia is still unvaccinated, medical services in some countries are becoming overwhelmed.
Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, IFRC’s Regional Director for Europe, said:
“Time is of the essence. With the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the region, millions of people in fragile or unstable settings are at heightened risk.
“With support from the IFRC, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to help those in need, but additional support is needed to save lives and address long term socio economic and health effects. The new wave of the pandemic is having a knock-on effect and will significantly impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable.”
In Georgia, new infections have skyrocketed by 90 per cent in the last fortnight. Authorities had to expand the capacity of pediatric wards recently, as more children were getting sick, and the number of hotels used as clinics for people with mild symptoms is up.
In Russia, daily infections have almost tripled since the beginning of June, with 23,000 on average in the past week. In Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan hospitalisations are on the rise. The situation is also deteriorating in Ukraine, as well as in Turkey, Montenegro and Baltic countries.
Younger generations, who often come last in vaccination campaigns, are being increasingly affected by COVID-19 in the region. This is adding pressure on health systems, as many need to be hospitalised, and can negatively impact other people around them too.
Ebbesen highlighted that vaccination is the key to curb the spread of COVID-19, together with maintaining crucial preventive measures such as mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing and meeting outdoors or in well ventilated spaces.
However, there is a widening gap across Europe: in the richest countries, 60 per cent of people had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 27 July, as opposed to less than 10 per cent in the lowest income countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.
“Vaccination, not vaccines, saves lives. Donors, governments and civil society, we must all do our part so that vaccines get into the arms of those who need them most.
“But this depends largely on the availability of doses and people’s willingness to get immunised. It is essential to collectively step up our assistance so that everyone has access to vaccination and nobody hesitates whether to get a jab or not,” stressed Ebbesen.
Worryingly, as holiday travel and easing of lockdowns further the risk of COVID-19 spreading, vital operational funds to support people in need are running out.
“We are concerned about not being able to meet the growing needs, particularly as the socio-economic crisis deepens. Not even 60 per cent of IFRC’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal is covered, which limits our capacity to provide basic humanitarian aid,” warned Ebbesen.
For more information, please contact:
-Ainhoa Larrea, +36 705 070 131, [email protected]
- Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
- Teresa Goncalves, +44 7891 857 056, [email protected]
| Press release
World Tuberculosis Day: IFRC calls for increased TB detection and treatment amid pandemic
Budapest/Geneva, 23 March 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging decision-makers to ensure tuberculosis (TB) patients receive life-saving treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, after new research showing the pandemic has set back TB detection by 12 years.
Research by the Stop TB Partnership shows that during the pandemic, the number of people detected, diagnosed with and treated for TB in the world dropped by approximately one million, falling back to 2008 levels.
In Europe and Central Asia, there was a substantial decrease (35.5 per cent) in TB case notification during the first 6 months of 2020, and a corresponding decline in treatment – a worrying decline that could lead to 5,000 additional TB deaths, according to a WHO survey of 44 European countries.
IFRC Regional Health and Care Coordinator for Europe, Dr Davron Mukhamadiev, said the WHO research was alarming, with half of European countries reallocating TB resources to COVID-19 and 60 per cent of countries having to reduce the number of TB facilities.
“Every year, 1.5 million people worldwide die of TB – almost 4,000 people a day. People with TB are three times more likely to die of COVID-19. We should be increasing TB services, not reducing them.
“There has never been a more critical time to ensure continuity of essential services for people affected by TB. If people are unable to receive uninterrupted treatment, even more lives will be lost,” Dr Mukhamadiev said.
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have continued supporting patients with TB throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in Kyrgyzstan, the Red Crescent uses its network of nurses to deliver drugs to patients, ensure compliance with the treatment, and provide psychosocial support. In Ukraine, the Red Cross visits long-term child TB patients in hospital, and in Russia the Red Cross visits detention centres, educating detainees, including migrants, about TB prevention.
Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent uses an innovative approach of video-observed therapy for TB, allowing TB patients to take their medications remotely. And in Tajikistan, 100 Red Crescent volunteers provide food and psychosocial support to TB patients.
 Stop TB Partnership
 World Health Organisation
Ukrainian Red Cross Society
Beekeeping boosts Ukraine veterans’ income and spirits
By Nora Peter, IFRC
Evgenii Novikov gently sweeps snow from the base of one of his colourful beehives and starts to tell a story about how a tiny insect gave him back his life.
When the former soldier returned to his hometown of Pavlograd from the conflict zone in Ukraine’s east, he found that everything had changed. There were no jobs, and his family, friends and neighbours did not understand what he had been through.
“When servicemen return from the conflict zone, they bring a different mindset that is difficult for others to understand. This can result in mental health issues and a distance between them and their loved ones,” Evgenii explains.
Evgenii, 56, was thrown a lifeline when the Red Cross told him about its livelihoods scheme. With five other former soldiers, he used a grant of 6,000 Swiss francs to buy 50 beehives and build up a business.
“When you work on an apiary and devote yourself to beekeeping, you’ll start feeling better because you see a creature who works and does good. You can approach them only with love and they repay it in kind.
“Bees work together as a family and make you understand that life never stops. If you adopt the same attitude and devote yourself to the work, your problems and sorrows eventually disappear.”
Luckily, two members of the group had experience with bees. Evgenii became the manager of the company and handles administrative tasks, while the others do the manual work.
He says there is a good demand for the honey from factories and local markets, and they plan to increase the number of beehives to 1,000 in a few years. But the bees provide more than just an income.
“All the guys feel emotionally uplifted as a result. It improves their relationships with their families and their communities.”
“We can become a good example for other people,” he concludes.
Since the start of the conflict five years ago, more than 25,000 people in Ukraine has received support through the joint livelihoods scheme of the IFRC and the Ukrainian Red Cross in the form of food vouchers, small business grants or multipurpose cash grants.
Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2019
About the Fund
The Empress Shôken Fundis named after Her Majesty The Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime. It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 15 million Swiss francsand supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways. The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. The Fund has assisted more than 150 National Societies thus far.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese RedCrossand the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund isevident inthe regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are usually announced every year on11April, the anniversary of her death. This yearthe announcement isbeingpublished earlierdue to the weekend.
The selection process
The Fund received 47 applications in 2019, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 395,782 CHF to 14 projects in Bolivia, Cyprus, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, Slovenia, Suriname, Thailand, Ukraine and Vanuatu.
The projects to be supported in 2019 cover a number of themes, including displaced people, disaster preparedness in vulnerable communities, and social cohesion and inclusion. Moreover, nearly all of the selected projects seek to strengthen the volunteer base of National Societies, with a view to building on the unique role played by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in communities everywhere.
Going forward, the Joint Commission will continue to focus on innovative projects that are geared towards learning so that the broader Movement canbenefit from project findings.
The 2019 grants
The Bolivian Red Cross is currently working to address the issue of gender-based violence among young people. It will use the grant to set up a permanent programme for schools and youth organizations in order to conduct educational sessions, raise awareness, and provide support and assistance to victims of violence.
Cyprus has become an important destination for trans-Mediterranean migration. Using the grant, the Cyprus Red Cross Society will train refugees and asylum seekers in standard and psychological first aid to enable members of the migrant community to help each other and relieve some of the pressure on the health-care sector.
The Red Cross Society of Guinea-Bissau will use the grant to strengthen the resilience of coastal communities threatened by extreme weather. The funds will go towards drawing up an emergency action plan, building up stocks of relief items and training at-risk communities so that they can respond rapidly in times of need.
In Iraq, displaced people and those living in remote areas have limited access to water, sanitary facilities and health care, which increases the risk that diseases such as cholera will spread. The Iraqi Red Crescent Society will use the grant to set up a health-education programme to raise children’s awareness of communicable diseases and the importance of personal hygiene.
The conflict in Syria has significantly increased the number of refugees in Lebanon, which has put a strain on blood-related services in the country. The Lebanese Red Cross is a major provider of these services and will use the grant to enhance its ability to deliver them free of charge to all those in need.
Hundreds of schools in Mexico were damaged by a major earthquake in 2017. The grant will help the Mexican Red Cross to set up a programme to prepare school communities for disasters and other emergencies, promote healthy lifestyles and develop skills to facilitate peaceful co-existence.
Young people account for more than 70% of the volunteers of the Mozambique Red Cross. The National Society will therefore use the grant to strengthen its youth-oriented initiatives by running training camps and information campaigns, and setting up Red Cross activities in schools.
In 2004, the Sao Tome and Principe Red Cross opened a social home for the elderly, which plays an important role in reducing this community’s vulnerability. The grant will allow the National Society to renovate the building and improve the services on offer.
The Singapore Red Cross Society runs a large-scale programme to deploy volunteers overseas during disasters. It will use the grant to scale up the training programme for these volunteers, adding more specialized and in-depth training and team-building sessions to ensure the volunteers can work as effectively as possible.
The Slovenian Red Cross plans to take an innovative approach to social cohesion by tackling hate speech and its consequences, with a special emphasis on hate speech against migrants. The grant will go towards a training programme within schools, designed to encourage students to become young cultural ambassadors and further spread the message.
The Suriname Red Cross Society will use the grant to address disaster preparedness in vulnerable schools in Paramaribo. The National Society will help schools and communities to draw up disaster plans, deliver first-aid training to teachers, and set up and train school emergency brigades made up of teachers and students.
The Thai Red Cross Society has a proven track record in conducting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities in emergencies, through its widespread network of registered nurses. It will use the grant to scale up this campaign, as well as to create a WASH manual, together with general and menstrual hygiene kits.
The armed conflict in Ukraine has led to a substantial rise in the number of volunteers working for the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. The grant will go towards a new, more sophisticated system for registering, managing and training the National Society’s growing volunteer base.
People with disabilities are at greater risk during disasters. The Vanuatu Red Cross Society will therefore use the grant to improve and promote disability and gender inclusion in National Society projects and programmes concerning volunteers, recruitment, capacity building, participation and access.
| Press release
Ukraine: Red Cross deployed to help contain largest measles outbreak in Europe in four years
Budapest, 5 March 2019 – Ukrainian Red Cross Society volunteers are being deployed to help contain a measles outbreak that has affected more than 75,000 people, making it the largest outbreak in Europe since 2015. This includes 54,000 measles cases reported in 2018, and more than 21,000 cases registered thus far in 2019.
Poor immunization coverage has contributed to the measles outbreak in Ukraine. In 2018, the measles vaccination rate for newborn babies was only 54 per cent, which is amongst the lowest in the world. This is well below the target of 95 per cent recommended by the World Health Organization. A rate of 95 per cent would protect even those members of the community who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Professor Mykola Polishchuk, Acting President of Ukrainian Red Cross Society, said: “Ukraine has one of the lowest vaccination rates against measles in the world and this is a very worrying trend. We are deploying 100 Red Cross volunteers to raise awareness about vaccination and conduct education campaigns to stop the spread of this disease.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 109,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to help the Ukrainian Red Cross Society tackle the outbreak.
Officials say the low coverage rate and widespread transmission of the virus is due to many factors, including transport costs for those in rural areas, a high number of people with weakened immune systems, such people living with HIV and tuberculosis - and vaccine refusal.
The funds will allow Ukrainian Red Cross Society to assist 90,000 people, including the most at-risk – children under six years of age, people with weakened immune systems, and people who have never been vaccinated against the disease.
The emergency funds will also allow volunteers to help health authorities raise awareness about vaccination, to conduct education campaigns in kindergartens, schools, hospitals and aged care facilities, and to provide protective equipment for Red Cross volunteers.
IFRC Europe Regional Director, Simon Missiri, said vaccine refusal is an increasingly worrying trend worldwide.
“It is hard to believe that children are dying of measles in Europe in 2019,” he said. “This disease is almost completely preventable. Red Cross workers have an important role in helping communities understand the importance of vaccines, and in answering concerns that are increasingly prevalent in many countries.”
The measles operation will run for four months in five regions across the country.
Recent global declines in vaccination rates resulted in more than 110,000 measles deaths worldwide in 2017. The Ukraine outbreak coincides with other measles outbreaks across Europe and in the Philippines where measles cases are up more than 547 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017.