Europe Migration Crisis

  • aid worker helps migrant


As families search for safety across the Middle East and Europe, the global Red Cross network is providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are serving tens of thousands of migrants and refugees, including along the Mediterranean and Western Balkans migratory routes in countries of origin, transit and arrival.

This critical assistance includes the distribution of food, water, hygiene kits, baby supplies, clothing and first aid kits. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are also providing medical care and first aid, shelter, and psychosocial support. Additionally, migrants who have been separated from their family members have been receiving assistance from the Red Cross Restoring Family Links program to reconnect with their loves ones.

Over the past four years, the American Red Cross has spent and committed more than $2.5 million on relief efforts in Syria and its neighboring countries affected by conflict such as Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. As the crisis continues, the American Red Cross is providing information management and mapping support to the global operation to ensure that Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters are not responding independently of each other, but rather, have greater situational awareness of the broader crisis. This allows for informed decision-making at a global level and is essential for an emergency of this scale, which can overwhelm local Red Cross and Red Crescent branches. The American Red Cross also provided 10,000 cots to help families in Germany.

As one of the largest humanitarian networks, we have the ability and are called to respond to crises wherever they may occur. Together, we are teaming up to meet migrants where they are, offering services that range from mobile kitchens in Austria and showers in Serbia to shelter and medical care in Germany. In big crises like this one, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent ensures that volunteers and staff in various countries are working in coordination with one another. Here are a few examples of what is being done across Europe:

Thousands of German Red Cross volunteers have been providing assistance at registration points, temporary accommodation, and aboard dedicated trains. Assistance other than shelter includes medical care, distribution of food items, psychosocial support, support with asylum procedures, and restoring family links.

In Greece, Hellenic Red Cross teams are distributing food parcels, hygiene kits, infant packs, and sleeping bags. Volunteers are preparing and delivering food three times a day to a reception center and organizing activities for children.

The Macedonia Red Cross is providing assistance on a 24/7 basis at northern and southern border crossing points. Teams are offering first aid to those in need and transferring seriously ill people to the hospital. The Red Cross is distributing relief items, including food and water, hygiene kits, infant kits, medicine, and blankets.

Austrian Red Cross volunteers are supporting people who crossed the border from Hungary with temporary shelter. Mobile kitchens offer migrants hot drinks and warm food. Medical assistance, first aid, and beds are ready for the tired travelers, many of whom have journeyed on foot.

The Hungarian Red Cross is providing food, hot drinks, blankets and waterproof covers.

The Red Cross of Serbia is helping the thousands of migrants who cross through the country every week—families, the disabled, youth and the elderly—all hoping to make it to western Europe. Red Cross teams are distributing food parcels, water and hygiene items. In some reception centers, families can rest, take a shower, and get something to eat.

At many points along the journey from Greece to Hungary and beyond, members of the public have recognized the humanitarian needs of people on the move, and have provided food assistance and other essential items using their own financial resources.

Reconnect with Loved Ones

Aid worker helps woman in Macedonia

In the turmoil, danger, and chaos of migration, family members can become separated in mere minutes. The Red Cross can help reconnect families when they have lost contact with their loved-ones. With the support of a worldwide network of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, our partners in Europe are working to help the thousands of people arriving daily from places like Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Iraq to search for their missing relatives—and help them regain contact.

If you are a U.S. resident searching for family members who may have disappeared while migrating to Europe—and if your request meets the following criteria—we may be able to help you locate your relative:

  • You were in regular contact with your relative overseas before you lost contact with him/her;
  • The person you are seeking must be an immediate family member (parents, siblings, children, spouses, fiancées, grandparents or legal guardians) who is not a U.S. citizen.
  • If those qualifications are met, please contact your local Red Cross. For program information and general inquiries use the International Reconnecting Families Inquiry Form, or call us at 202-303-1600.

    In addition to submitting an inquiry through the Red Cross, please continue to attempt to contact your relatives, keeping the following advice in mind:

  • Keep calling, sending text messages and trying to connect via email or social media; calling during off-peak hours may help to get through clogged phone lines;
  • Contact other family members or neighbors who live nearby or may also be concerned about the sought person.
  • Find more information on Red Cross services to reconnect separated families.