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"When patients are withdrawn, I tell them that I’m a displaced person just like them.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
Sri Lanka on brink of humanitarian crisis
Colombo/Kuala Lumpur, 21 July 2022 – The economic crisis in Sri Lanka is tipping into one of the country’s worst humanitarian crises in decades, with 6.7 million people now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Millions of families are facing shortages of food, fuel, cooking gas, essential supplies, and medicines as the humanitarian impacts of the economic crisis continue to multiply.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) holds particularly grave concerns for 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line who are among the most affected by the loss of livelihoods, food shortages and spiraling cost of essential items.
Sri Lanka Red Cross Secretary General, Mahesh Gunasekara, said:
“The situation has taken a devastating turn for people already struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s even worse for single parent households, and millions who cannot work or send their children to school because of the fuel crisis.
“We need international support now to help millions of people pull their lives back together and avoid the worse. We need to act early to ensure lives can be saved.”
The IFRC is supporting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) as the main national humanitarian actor. The SLRCS is a neutral and impartial organization which has been providing humanitarian assistance since the country’s independence.
Over 10,000 dry ration food packs and 4000 cash grants have so far been distributed in 25 districts of the county, 5000 school packs have been given out in 10 districts. Clean water is being provided to those queuing for days for fuel and food parcels for 10,000 families in four districts. SLRCS is working closely with Ministry of Health to provide essential medicines that are currently in short supply to hospitals.
First aiders and the Red Cross ambulances been providing emergency medical response to over 20,000 people injured during recent protests, including demonstrators and security forces. SLRCS has provided Ambulance services to over 1000 people and transported them to hospitals for further treatments.
Speaking from Colombo, IFRC’s Special advisor for Humanitarian Crises and Emergencies Maryann Horne said:
“The effects of the economic crisis are being felt in every single sector. The economic crisis is plunging those most vulnerable – some 2.4 million people already living below the poverty line into despair. With no income, people are barely able to cope, and are now selling their assets, getting into debt, being forced to cut down on food while many children are not able to go to school.
“The emergency appeal will allow the most urgent humanitarian needs to be met. It will help prevent those most vulnerable at a time people have no cash, no jobs, and no fuel."
The IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal in support of Sri Lanka Red Cross for 28 million Swiss francs for urgent humanitarian assistance.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Rachel Punitha, +60-19-791-3830,
Maryann Horne, +44-7912-477-045,
"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.
Sri Lanka: Complex emergency
An economic crisis and a ban on synthetic fertiliser in Sri Lanka have sparked civil unrest and food insecurity across the country.Severe food shortages are expected within the coming months, along with shortages of fuel, cooking gas and medicines. Many people are resorting to emergency coping strategies, such as withdrawing their children from school or selling their assets. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC is supporting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to provide livelihoods and basic needs assistance, as well as safe drinking water and hygiene services, to 500,000 of the most vulnerable people
The IFRC was created to bring kindness – and kindness is needed more than ever
“The world is bleeding, and it needs help now”.
Stark words of warning from a humanitarian leader shaken by a brutal war and living under the shadow of a global pandemic.
I did not pen these words. They were written in 1919, by Henry Davison, the leader of the American Red Cross.
His big idea was that the world’s Red Cross societies – which were set up after the movement was created by Nobel Laureate Henry Dunant in 1863 – should come together as a force for good at all times, and not only during wars. Davison firmly believed the kindness and expertise shown by Red Cross volunteers should benefit humanity in other times as well.
And thus, the League of Red Cross Societies was born, on the 5th of May 1919. There were five founding Red Cross Societies – those of the United States of America, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. By the end of that year, the League had 30 members.
The League changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the IFRC – in 1991. We now have 192 member National Societies, with more in formation.
The core of the idea has stayed the same while the scope of the IFRC network has grown massively, in reach and in impact.
In 2020, 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reached more than 688 million people with disaster and other emergency response work; some 306 million with health activities, and 125 million with clean water and sanitation assistance.
These are impressive figures, but the scale of the humanitarian needs continues to grow every year. Right now, countless people across the world need urgent support.
The conflict in Ukraine and the stress placed on its neighbouring countries is just one example. The lingering physical, social and economic damages inflicted by the global COVID-19 pandemic is another. Alongside these disasters is the ever-present, and worsening, threat of climate change.
With challenges like these, can a simple idea – like the one that led in 1919 to what is now known as the IFRC – still help to heal the world? I believe it can – and will. We know what works, and we’ve been proving it for more than a century.
It’s one human being reaching out to support another human being in crisis, at the community level, where it is always needed the most.
It’s ensuring that local volunteers and local organizations have the resources, training and as much (or as little) international support as they need to respond to disasters and crises. It’s making sure their voices are heard, and their interests represented, on the international stage.
And it is working to bring that support to the most marginalized communities and individuals, no matter where they are, and without any discrimination as to who they are.
It is – put simply – kindness.
I first joined my National Society, the Nepal Red Cross, as a volunteer more than three decades ago. I was trusted – and therefore able to meet and support the people in greatest need – because I was part of their community, I spoke their language, and I understood their concerns. And the key to understanding what people needed was kindness.
Over the years, the IFRC has evolved alongside the communities we support. We have adapted our ways of working, expanded our expertise as different vulnerabilities and stressors emerge, and have been agile enough to pioneer and then mainstream new approaches to humanitarian support.
We have led on the development and widespread acceptance of cash assistance as the most effective and most respectful way to support people in need. After all, people who have lost everything in a disaster or conflict should not have to lose their dignity as well.
And we are driving change in how disaster risks are managed and reduced through anticipatory action, where local communities are supported to reduce their risks, and immediate funding can be triggered once scientifically-measured thresholds are reached.
None of this work would be possible without the kindness of our 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based volunteers.
On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8th May, we will encourage people around the world to believe in the power of kindness and #BeHumanKIND.
The world is still bleeding. It still needs help. But there are nearly 15 million reasons to believe in kindness, and to have hope.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the IFRC, visit our history and archives page.
And check out the hashtag #BeHumanKIND across all social media channels this week to see how our National Societies are celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
Lebanon: Complex emergency
Lebanon has been facing an evolving complex humanitarian crisis since late 2019, generating widespread and growing needs for assistance and protection. Two powerful explosions occurred at the Port of Beirut on 4 August 2020, leaving devastating impacts while the country grapples with overlapping economic and financial crises, political volatility and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is also hosting the highest refugee population per capita in the world.
| 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
Sri Lanka’s vulnerable forced to risk “a pathway to destitution"
Colombo/Kuala Lumpur, 14 October 2022 – The deepening economic crisis is forcing people to make heartbreaking choices between going hungry, buying life-saving medicine, or finding the money to send children to school.
A needs assessment conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 11 of the country’s 25 districts has found that 96% of the more than 2,900 households surveyed have been affected by the current crisis in some way—with food insecurity, health, livelihoods, and nutrition among the top concerns. Deteriorating physical safety and security, as well as violence against women and children, stood out.
The report uncovered worryingly high problems of access to food, either because of high cost, income stress or lack of availability. Runaway inflation and loss of livelihoods have doubly impacted people’s ability to cope with the record cost of living. Income loss is causing significant food insecurity, while inflation is driving up the cost of medicine and fuel costs are preventing access to essential healthcare.
The report gravely warns that without immediate humanitarian interventions, the impact on communities is likely to be long-lasting and cumulative.
Director General of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, Dr Mahesh Gunasekara, said:
“We work on the ground and at the heart of communities. We hear the most heart-wrenching stories of loss of hope and gripping fear for the future. Life for them is like losing the battle for survival; for single women with children, people living with disabilities, the elderly, casual labourers, and fishermen.
“The most vulnerable need our help now so they can get through the worst of the economic crisis. We need to act to ensure lives are saved and restored.”
Speaking on a visit to Colombo to meet affected communities, the Government and the diplomatic community, the Regional Director, Asia Pacific of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Alexander Matheou, said:
“The report provides first-hand evidence of how the most vulnerable people, who are already under the poverty line, are being driven further towards despair. As a result, people are resorting to borrowing heavily, eating less food and fewer times per day, pawning valuables and assets, and using other survival strategies just to scrape by.
“Our main priorities remain meeting humanitarian needs at its worst. Unless this is done effectively and quickly, people who are struggling now will find themselves on a demeaning pathway to destitution from which there is no escape. The time to act is now.”
To meet the country’s spiralling needs, the IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance for 28 million Swiss francs in support of Sri Lanka Red Cross.
In line with the IFRC appeal, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) supports the Sri Lanka Red Cross to respond to the humanitarian issues arising from the economic crisis with a focus on providing medical equipment to the healthcare system and economic assistance to vulnerable people.
To arrange an interview, get access to audio-visuals, or for more information, contact:
Kate Marshall, +94 77357 6408,
In Kuala Lumpur:
Rachel Punitha, +60-197-913-830,
Statement on the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan
Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to address you on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and our member National Society, the Afghan Red Crescent. I give this in complementarity to ICRC’s President, Peter Maurer’s earlier statement.
As current events in Afghanistan unfold, the Afghan Red Crescent continues to carry out critical humanitarian work through its network of 34 provincial branches, 2,000 staff and more than 30,000 trained volunteers.
The Afghan Red Crescent and the IFRC’s staff have been there through it all and are always there to fulfil our humanitarian mandate. We had no option to leave. We continue to deliver.
The IFRC has been in Afghanistan for more than 30 years uninterrupted. We have worked with the Afghan Red Crescent throughout this time in their institutional development, in bringing much needed humanitarian supplies, in bringing the community voices to the global stage and in providing leadership in coordination. We will remain by their side, for as long as we are needed.
Last week we launched arevised Emergency Appealfor 36 million Swiss Francs to ramp up support to the work of the Afghan Red Crescent in meeting the needs of those affected by one of the country’s worst ever droughts, acute food shortages, a fractured health system, displacement as well as the devastating impact of COVID-19. We have also provided support to the neighbouring countries’ National Red Crescent Societies, and we will need an additional 15 million Swiss francs to continue to do so.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have three messages for you to consider, and act upon:
We must work together to ensure that humanitarian corridors are kept open.This may include making exceptions to sanctions, which allow for medical and urgent humanitarian supply chains. Now is the time to ensure that there are no bureaucratic obstacles to committing humanitarian aid. In return, we will ensure that support is provided to the most vulnerable, to enable locally managed and delivered aid, in line with our fundamental principles.
Now is the time to support local action, empower strong local organizations and make good on your localization commitments in the Grand Bargain.The Afghan Red Crescent has unique access to people in need - recognized for its neutrality, impartiality and independence. Its’ Afghan staff and volunteers work every day in every province of Afghanistan, with direct access to support communities with ongoing relief and health services.
Now is not the time to ignore Afghanistan; it is vital that we look to the future and support the people of Afghanistan as they work hard to heal and recover.
I thank you.
| Press release
Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders commit to accelerate efforts to tackle rising humanitarian challenges
Geneva, 23 June 2022 - The Council of delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement concluded today in Geneva with commitments from Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders and youth representatives from around the world, to work together and scale-up efforts to take urgent action on a range of critical humanitarian issues.
Representatives of 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed a series of resolutions to address a range of humanitarian challenges, including; the growing existential threats posed by the climate crisis; the escalating migration crisis; the devastating impacts of war in cities and the need to continue efforts to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
"Urban warfare has a devastating humanitarian impact, including the appallingly high number of civilian deaths, the physical and mental suffering, the destruction of homes and critical civilian infrastructure, the disruption to essential services and the widespread displacement of people. We have seen that sad reality playing out in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. The Red Cross and Red Crescent must mobilise all its influence and resources to meet the challenges that lie ahead,’ said ICRC President Peter Maurer. ‘To be clear: the consequences of urban conflicts are not inevitable. They are the result of the behaviour of the parties fighting in these environments and we call for international humanitarian law to be upheld as an urgent priority’.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “How we work to tackle and mitigate against the impacts of climate change will define our work, not just for the next few years, but for decades to come.
“All over the world, our volunteers and staff are working with people in their communities to help them adapt to the climate crisis and, frankly, they are demonstrating greater readiness, eagerness, and leadership than the majority of our global political leaders. We need action from them, not more words. And now.
“The same goes for the international migrant crisis. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement speaks of leaving no person behind, of solidarity, and humanity. But, all over the world, we see world leaders failing to take the plight of migrants seriously enough and too easily prepared to neglect the human rights of those fleeing conflict, hunger, persecution, and, of course, those parts of the world where climate change has already done untold damage to their communities.”
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President, was re-elected to serve a second four-year term in office at the IFRC’s General Assembly on 19 June.
For more information on resolutions adopted at the Council of delegates is available here
For other information and interview requests, contact:
IFRC: Benoit Carpentier, Tel: +41 792 132 413 Email: [email protected] Paul Scott -+44 (0)7834 525650 email: [email protected]
ICRC ICRC: Ewan Watson - m. +41 (0)79 244 6470 email: [email protected] ICRC: Crystal Wells - m. +41 (0)79 642 8056 email: [email protected]
For further information about the statutory meetings please visit rcrcconference.org
| Press release
Deadly earthquake hits crises-riddled Afghanistan
The Afghan Red Crescent, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has mobilised to support communities affected by a deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake which struck the south-East region of Afghanistan early morning Wednesday 22 June.
Based on initial reports, at least 1000 people have been killed, with the number of casualties expected to increase as rescuers reach hardest-hit villages where people remain trapped in rubble. Remote districts in the provinces of Khost and Paktika have been most affected.
Afghan Red Crescent staff and volunteers from affected communities were among the first responders working alongside local authorities and other humanitarian organisations. Additional teams have been deployed from Kabul and neighbouring provinces to boost the speed of assistance.
Furthermore, food supplies, non-food items and medicines that were in stock have been redirected to areas hardest hit by the quake to address immediate needs.
Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said:
“This latest earthquake is another horrific tragedy for Afghanistan, as if there were not enough. It struck in a grim backdrop where more than 50 per cent of our people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due a combination of catastrophic crises.”
“It is heartbreaking to see such human suffering among people who were already struggling to recover from effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, flooding, and extreme economic hardship among other shocks.”
Afghan Red Crescent trucks with relief items and medicines as well as ambulances have been dispatched to the affected areas. These will complement mobile health teams that were already operational in Paktika, of which some have been redirected to address immediate needs resulting from the earthquake.
Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said:
“Local responders and institutions have played a critical role in saving lives of thousands who would otherwise still be trapped in rubble. Strengthening local preparedness capacity is the surest and quickest way to an effective response."
“We only recently revised our Emergency Appeal to increase emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance in almost all province of Afghanistan which are battling a cocktail of catastrophic humanitarian crises. Following the deadly earthquake, we will have to scale up further our operations in Khost and Paktika.”
The IFRC has released 750,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in support of a timely response by the Afghan Red Crescent. Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance is needed.
As part of its ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 90 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. This includes an extra 10 million Swiss francs to address the needs wrought by the quake.
For more information or to arrange interviews:
In Geneva: Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Director A.I, Communications Department, Mob: +41 (0)79 213 24 13, Email: [email protected]
In Asia/Pacific: Rachel Punitha, Manager A.I., Communications, Mob: +60 19 791 3830,
Email: [email protected]
| Press release
Afghanistan: Hunger and poverty surge as drought persists
Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 17 June – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for increased global support to stem spiralling hunger in Afghanistan as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises threatens millions.
Intense summer heat and a weak spring rainy season have effectively spelled doom for a meaningful harvest in the country.
Amidst mounting poverty, 70 percent of households are unable to meet basic food and non-food needs, with particularly devastating effects for homes headed by widows, the elderly, people with disabilities, and children. An estimated 3 million children are at risk of malnutrition and susceptible to diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and measles due to weakened immunity.
Thousands of people have resorted to begging in the streets, with prices of essential items soaring in the face of declining remittances, a crumbling economy and rising poverty.
Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This is one of the worst humanitarian crises I have seen in Afghanistan, in more than 30 years as a humanitarian aid worker. It is horrifying to see the extent of hunger and resurgence of poverty that we have fought so hard to eradicate.
“It is particularly worrying for Afghans in rural and remote areas, where some of the country’s poorest communities face widespread destitution and very high levels of malnutrition after their crops failed or livestock perished.
“A lack of food should not be a cause of death in Afghanistan. There needs to be a concerted international effort to continue critical humanitarian assistance across the country so that lives can be saved.”
Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up its response operation using available funds, giving immediate priority to food and cash distributions as well as providing health services via more than 140 health facilities across Afghanistan. However, the latest reports show much more assistance will be needed.
Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said:
“The increasing economic hardship is a bitter blow for families in Afghanistan who are trying to cope with one of the worst droughts and food crises they have ever faced, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to preventable disease.
“As well as providing critical relief to people struggling in the face of severe drought and hunger, livelihood interventions should be supported to enable people to restore means of earning an income.
“There is also a need for investment in local institutions that deliver vital services in the cities as well as remote areas. Locally staffed, well-functioning institutions are proven to help the most vulnerable, including children, women, and the elderly in every corner of Afghanistan.”
As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 80 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Asia Pacific Office:
Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089,
| Press release
Ukraine conflict intensifies existing humanitarian crises in the MENA region, warns the IFRC
16 June 2022, Beirut -The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to face multiple and complex crises from conflicts to climate change and displacement. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today issued a rapid assessment report focusing on the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the humanitarian situation in the MENA region.
The findings of the assessment confirmed that the conflict intensifies the impact of pre-existing crises and trends and increases the vulnerability of most countries.
Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director of IFRC MENA said: “The global economic and security impact of the conflict in Ukraine could be the proverbial last straw that breaks the camel’s back, pushing already fragile countries in the MENA region over the tipping point.”
The assessment’s main findings show that food security and livelihoods are the two most affected sectors. Currently, there are over 55 million people across the region who need humanitarian assistance.Data show that the number could increase by 25% over the next six months because of the global food price index increase that has hit a record high. Twelve countries from the MENA region have experienced a dramatic increase in the price of basic food items. In Lebanon, prices have increased by 75-100%. In Iran and Yemen prices went up by 50-75%. Currently, five million people are facing food insecurity in the region. An estimated 1.9 million could slide into hunger.
MENA countries source up to 85% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia. The agriculture industry in the region has already been severely affected by a combination of disrupted supply chains, water scarcity, and increasing temperatures.
With donors’ attention turned towards the Ukraine crisis, there is a risk that the humanitarian funding for MENA countries might drop. Lack of access to donor funding will only amplify the existing humanitarian crisis in several MENA countries. For the millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Yemenis, Syrians, and others who live in countries experiencing conflict, catastrophic economic meltdowns, and increasing humanitarian needs, this would be equivalent to shutting down critical life support.
Finally, energy and oil-importing countries are experiencing additional social stress as they witness a 25-75% increase of fuel prices. In Syria and Yemen, fuel shortages and a lack of electricity is already severely impacting the delivery of basic services. The compounded crisis trends in Lebanon, including the sharp increase in energy prices resulting from the Ukraine crisis, have the potential to push the country over the tipping point to become a “critical crisis”.
Click here to access the full report.
Notes to the editor:
Methodology: This rapid assessment aims to contribute to the ongoing analysis and scenario development to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to evolving crisis trends in the MENA region, with specific considerations on how the Ukraine conflict is a risk multiplier to existing crisis trends. The assessment was carried out between 25 April and 3 June 2022 using secondary data and a perception survey of 24 representatives of National Societies and IFRC Heads of Delegation.
For more information:
Rania Ahmed, Deputy Regional Director, IFRC MENA: [email protected] +96171802701
| 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]
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.
| 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]
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
Syria: Extremely harsh winter raises acute humanitarian needs to highest level ever
Damascus/Beirut, 27 January 2022–Extreme winter conditions are putting communities already overwhelmed by overlapping crises in immediate danger, resulting in the highest level of acute humanitarian needs ever in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns. In many areas, this winter has been one of the coldest in the past decade, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures.
IFRC is deeply concerned about the situation in the country as the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has reached the highest since the start of the crisis. According to the UN, a total of 14.6 million people needs support, 1.2 million more than in 2021. 6.9 million people are internally displaced.
Mads Brinch Hansen, Head of the IFRC Delegation in Syria, said:
“Exceptionally cold weather is making the lives of many people all around Syria even more difficult, especially the displaced communities living in temporary shelters who don’t have appropriate clothing or heating for sub-zero temperatures.
“The situation in Syria is worse than ever. The price of basic commodities such as food and fuel has skyrocketed making them unaffordable for the majority of people, escalations of violence are intensifying, and COVID-19 continues to put an extra burden on communities. At the same time, funding for humanitarian actors is shrinking.”
Eng. Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), said:
“Daily, our volunteers in Hassakeh and everywhere in Syria see more people who are asking for support, more children who are without winter clothes in the middle of the storm. The situation is getting worse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions that complicate our humanitarian response.
“We will continue doing our best to alleviate the suffering of millions of people and preserve their dignity. We need the support from partners and donors to restore the livelihoods of people and ensure sustainable solutions to accelerate the recovery.”
Hassakeh, where up to 45,000 people have been displaced by recent violence at Sina'a Prison, is one of the hardest-hit regions with sub-zero temperatures making the winter one of the coldest in recent history. Snow has also covered the Al-Hol camp, which hosts more than 60,000 displaced people.
SARC continues to be the main humanitarian actor in the country with thousands of volunteers responding to the acute needs caused by the conflict, economic crisis, and COVID-19 as well as the cold wave.
In Hassakeh, SARC has a key role in evacuating as well as providing medical services and drinking water for the newly displaced and the communities hosting them.
Almost 11 years since the start of the conflict, Syria continues to be one of the biggest and most complex humanitarian crises globally. Homes and whole cities have been utterly destroyed, forcing mass displacement.
According to the UN, 90 percent of the population in Syria lives below the poverty line and 70 percent are facing acute food shortages – figures that have not seen improvement in recent years due to the economic downturn, instability and disasters driven by climate change. In 2021, Syria faced the worst drought in more than 50 years.
To scale up the Syrian Arab Red Crescent's humanitarian response and meet the growing needs, IFRC calls for partners and donors to continue showing their solidarity towards the people in Syria. Funding is more urgent than ever to ensure Syrian people can cover their basic needs and maintain a life of dignity.
For more information:
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, [email protected], +961 70372812
In Damascus: Rahaf Aboud, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, [email protected], +963 959999853
IFRC Syria Country Plan
For the editors:
About the Syrian Arab Red Crescent:
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is the main humanitarian actor in Syria. It has more than 13,500 staff members and volunteers in 14 branches and 97 sub-branches nationwide. Annually SARC reaches 5.6 million people with humanitarian assistance.
About the IFRC:
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. With a permanent delegation in Syria since 2007, IFRC has played a pivotal role in providing humanitarian services and supporting the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in their organisational and strategic development and in strengthening SARC’s operational capacity.
| Press release
EU and IFRC support people affected by the water crisis and drought in Syria
Damascus, 3 December 2021 – In response to the severe water crisis and drought in Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released 748,000 CHF (709,000 EUR) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.
The European Union is providing CHF 158.000 (150,000 EUR) in humanitarian funding to assist the most affected people. The funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The funds released to the IFRC will help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) cater to the humanitarian needs of 15,000 people with food and health interventions over six months in Al Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor, which are some of the most affected localities.
Since January 2021, Syria has been witnessing extreme drought conditions coupled with unprecedented low water levels of the Euphrates River leading to poor agricultural production and loss of livelihoods. Millions of people are now experiencing worsening food insecurity and increasing malnutrition rates.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and community health promoters will distribute food parcels and engage in hygiene promotion and disease prevention through awareness-raising about waterborne diseases and COVID-19.
Through the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the European Union provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.
The European Union is signatory to a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF.For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and EU humanitarian aid enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.
For more information, please contact:
Rana Sidani Cassou, Head of Communications – IFRC MENA: Mobile +41766715751 / +33675945515 [email protected]
Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer – European Humanitarian Aid MENA: Mobile +962 777 57 0203 [email protected]
| Press release
IFRC is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine
West Bank / Gaza / Geneva 12 November 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine. Palestinians are facing a multitude of crises, including persistent escalations of violence, a socio-economic breakdown and the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of a protracted conflict and occupation.
Critical infrastructure, including the power and water supply, is eroding in many areas. Millions of people are unable to cover their most basic needs because of serious shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicines, among other essential supplies, especially in Gaza, as a result of the continued blockade. According to OCHA, more than 2.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Speaking at the end of his visit to the Gaza strip and the West Bank, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:
“I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Palestine: too many overlapping crises are pushing local communities to their limits. I am always impressed by the critical work done by the Palestine Red Crescent teams: from the emergency medical services to social and inclusion activities, they are a key humanitarian actor. I was particularly inspired by the visit to their centres for children with disabilities both in Gaza Strip and West Bank. These centres embody the real meaning of humanity: without PRCS these children would be left behind. The world has a moral duty to strengthen humanitarian support in Palestine and invest in local actors like the Palestine Red Crescent.”
Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) continues to be the leading provider of emergency medical services in Palestine, operating five hospitals and providing ambulance and first aid services. For decades, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has supported the Palestine Red Crescent Society to respond to the immense needs of the most vulnerable people.
During the visit, President Rocca signed the IFRC legal status agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine: a standard procedure when the IFRC establishes an office with international staff to strengthen the operations of a national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society.
IFRC President Rocca said:
“Signing of the status agreement is verification for our long-term commitment to support PRCS and the people in Palestine. As per our humanitarian principles, we continue providing humanitarian relief to the people based on their vulnerabilities and needs, without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.”
Dr. Younis al-Khatib, PRCS President, said:
“The signing of the legal status agreement is a manifestation of the long-standing support and solidarity of IFRC with PRCS. The staff and volunteers of PRCS are always happy to meet with President Rocca and be inspired by his unwavering support and praise for the volunteers of our Movement.”
IFRC is committed to supporting the PRCS in its humanitarian mandate to deal with the acute and protracted consequences of occupation, violence, disasters, and crises.
IFRC together with the other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners continue to enhance the preparedness and response capacities of PRCS’ medical services, scale up their COVID-19 response activities, provide medical items, medicines and personal protective equipment, and replace old and out-of-service ambulances.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, +961 70372812, [email protected]
In Ramallah: Mamoun Abbasi, PRCS, +970 595606096, [email protected]