Red Cross distributes more than 90,000 food, hygiene parcels, over 400 tons of medicine, medical supplies, trauma kits, other items in Ukraine; Red Cross estimates 18 million people need humanitarian assistance in country

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March 22, 2022 (press release) –

As fighting in Ukraine continues, the Red Cross is providing lifesaving aid to those in need — both in the country and in neighboring areas. More than three million people have fled Ukraine to nearby countries and an estimated 18 million — a third of the country’s population — will need humanitarian assistance. As the fighting intensifies, so does the dire humanitarian situation and needs on the ground.

“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,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “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,” he states.
In Ukraine: Aid Amidst the Violence

Under mortal danger to themselves, Red Cross teams are still working tirelessly to help people and communities impacted by conflict. Significant infrastructure damage has left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity or water, while damaged roads have disrupted supply chains, leaving communities cut off from food and basic supplies.

Around the clock, teams are providing emergency aid amid fear and uncertainty. Since the conflict intensified on February 24, Red Cross teams have:

  • Distributed more than 90,000 food and hygiene parcels to families on the move across Ukraine, including to Mariupol.
  • Supported the evacuation of over 57,000 people from the towns of Energodar and Sumy and the Kviy, Kharkiv and Kherson regions.
  • Provided first aid training to more than 42,000 people across the country.
  • Delivered more than 400 tons of food, blankets, medicine, medical supplies, trauma kits and household items.
  • Assisted with the evacuation of people with disabilities.
  • Supported logistics pipelines into Ukraine to ensure critical items can be delivered.

In the coming weeks, Red Cross volunteers will increase their work reuniting separated families, providing food and other household items, and increasing awareness about areas contaminated by unexploded ordnance. The current needs are tremendous, critical among them include water delivery, support to health facilities and medical care for families wounded.

In Neighboring Countries: Help for Those Fleeing their Homes

People impacted by the conflict are heartbroken, as they are forced to flee from their homes. Each day, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in the region are rolling up their sleeves to assist with this dire humanitarian crisis as it unfolds. In Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Belarus, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Red Cross volunteers are supporting displaced people. Trucks and planes loaded with goods are arriving regularly to provide critical items for those in need.

Teams are:

  • Distributing food, water, clothing, bedding, hygiene sets, blankets and even handing out SIM cards so that families can stay connected amid the turmoil.
  • Providing medical care at border crossings.
  • Supplying baby products and services for children.
  • Pitching tents and preparing shelters for refugees who need a comforting place to sleep and feel safe.  
  • Providing health-related services and medical support to those in need.
  • Providing psychosocial support for those who are physically, mentally and emotionally stressed.
  • Helping connect people to other essential services.

Role of the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has deployed international crisis responders to Poland, Moldova, Hungary and Romania to provide humanitarian relief in support of the international Red Cross operation helping families who fled their homes. These highly trained crisis responders—who are lending skills such as information management, cash assistance programming, GIS systems, communications and leadership—are supporting on-the-ground relief efforts alongside local teams, including the Polish Red Cross, Moldovan Red Cross and Romanian Red Cross.

Additionally, in line with its work supporting military families, the American Red Cross has sent trained staff to Europe to support emergency communication needs of U.S. military members, so they can stay in touch with family members back home. The Red Cross Hero Care Network is a Congressionally-chartered program that connects service members and their families in times of need. Red Crossers are also distributing comfort kits, containing hygiene items and other necessities to service members and U.S. State Department staff.  

Blood Services

At this time, the American Red Cross is not shipping blood products to Ukraine. The American Red Cross does not ship blood products outside the U.S. without a specific request from the U.S. Department of State, from the United Nations, or unless we have a request from affected Red Cross or Red Crescent societies abroad.  

Can I Volunteer or Donate Goods?

In countries around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations have their own staff and volunteers who are trained to respond to large-scale disaster operations. The American Red Cross sends highly specialized and experienced professionals with technical skills and expertise abroad only after the Red Cross or Red Crescent team requests assistance. Those not already on the Red Cross’s international disaster roster will not have the opportunity to deploy at this time. We encourage you to connect with your local Red Cross chapter for future opportunities or to visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information.  

While we are grateful for the outpouring of support, it’s important to know that neither the American Red Cross, nor our global Red Cross partners, are accepting the donation of in-kind goods such as food, clothing, blankets or toys at this time. These items can be  difficult to manage on the ground and divert resources from our mission. Other charitable organizations are better suited to manage such donations.  

International Humanitarian Law 

ICRC called on authorities to adhere to international humanitarian law and to protect civilians and infrastructure delivering essential services, including power and water facilities, schools and hospitals. Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC, requested protection for humanitarian action so that aid agencies can maintain access to civilians. ICRC has also called for parties to agree to terms so safe passage of civilians is possible.

Protecting Red Cross Workers

The Red Cross emblem is strictly regulated under humanitarian law. In armed conflict, it may be used by medical staff and facilities, including army medics and vehicles. It may also be used by Red Cross and Red Crescent workers, vehicles, facilities and the humanitarian relief they bring.

Resources for People Affected by the Conflict

  • The ICRC has published a list of resources for people needing urgent help in Ukraine, including medical care, evacuation support, mental health support, shelter and safety tips.
  • The IFRC Psychosocial Center also has resources for talking to children about war.
  • For people fleeing the war in Ukraine, the European Union (EU) lists a comprehensive guide including rights when crossing the border into an EU country, eligibility for temporary protection and applying for international protection, as well as the rights of travel inside the European Union.

How to Find a Missing Loved One

If you are trying to locate or get in touch with a U.S. citizen, please contact the U.S. Department of State Overseas Citizens Services Office online or call 1-888-407-4747. However, if you are looking for a family member who is not a U.S. citizen but is located in either Ukraine or Russia, the Red Cross may be able to reconnect you through our Restoring Family Links program.

In neighboring countries where Ukrainians have fled, the Red Cross is distributing SIM cards for cell phones, so people can get in touch with their loved ones.   Some family members have maintained contact with each other, but the situation is rapidly changing. As of now, most have maintained their own family connections via cell phones, but it is important to note that the telecommunication systems in the region have been affected. The ICRC and Ukraine Red Cross will continue to work together to help reconnect families, despite considerable challenges on the ground. 

How can I learn more about the Red Cross response?
ICRC and IFRC have a comprehensive list of resources, including maps, press releases, videos, photos and stories, further expanding upon Red Cross efforts in the region.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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Jason Irving
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