Six months of conflict in Ukraine has left behind insurmountable suffering and destruction. Millions of people, many of whom are women, children, older people and those with disabilities, have fled, leaving everything behind. These families are in limbo as they try to figure out their next move — starting over in a new place or returning to uncertainty or possibly danger. During this time, Red Cross teams have been there to answer the call — providing essential humanitarian aid to those who need it most during these challenging and uncertain times.
Global Red Cross Response
Around the clock, global Red Cross teams continue providing critical service to the people of Ukraine. In the past six months, the Red Cross has ensured that:
Our collective response includes the following:
Needs Remain as Conflict Continues
People are facing uncertainty as the conflict continues. The numbers are staggering — 6 million people are internally displaced; 10 million people have fled Ukraine; and 15 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The residual effects of the conflict – mental health challenges, wage losses, family separation – impact both those who have fled and those who remain.
Although there has been unimaginable suffering, we have also witnessed the true power of humanity at a time when people need it most. Across Ukraine and surrounding countries where people have fled, the global Red Cross network has been working around the clock to address the needs of those impacted. With the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and 47 National Societies rallying to support the Ukraine humanitarian crisis, it has truly been a global response. Red Cross teams have provided essential humanitarian aid, healthcare, cash and voucher assistance, water and sanitation services and even assisted with voluntary evacuations.
Looking Forward and Addressing Future Challenges
Red Cross teams have helped millions of people who need it most in Ukraine, the seven bordering countries — Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, Belarus, and Russia — and 17 other countries across Europe and beyond. In the first few urgent months since the escalation, the Red Cross has focused on providing rapid relief supplies including food, clothing, and hygiene supplies; cash and voucher assistance; health and care, including mental health and psychosocial support; first aid; child-friendly spaces and protection services. As the conflict continues, Red Cross teams are now scaling up with the growing humanitarian needs with cash and voucher assistance — giving people the power and dignity to cover what they need it most.
In Ukraine, health systems are buckling under the pressure and people require long term mental health support. Critical medical supplies are becoming increasingly scarce. Limited health-care capacity coupled with a lack of safe drinking water in some areas is increasing the risk of outbreaks. In neighboring countries, health systems are also struggling with the increased demand. IFRC is providing critical health, including clinics at the border, mobile health teams in Ukraine and first aid posts across several countries. It is essential that those impacted also receive early and consistent mental health support.
Going forward, Red Cross teams are working to ensure that they respond to the needs of displaced people and host communities. The influx of people can put an additional strain on housing, health care, jobs and schools, which has the potential to lead to tension in host communities. Programs that promote social inclusion — including language courses and job training — can help people feel more settled in their new communities and enable them to contribute to their local economies. Additionally, providing cash assistance and supplies to host families can also help alleviate some of the additional strain placed on them.
As the seasons change, Red Cross teams are preparing for the cold winter months ahead to ensure those impacted are safe and warm. With colder temperatures on the way, many of the humanitarian needs will become more pronounced. People will need warm shelter, clothing, fuel and insulation and support for additional heating costs. Red Cross teams are already planning alongside local partners and authorities to ensure we are ready to support those impacted through the winter months.
As the conflict continues, more people may be forced to flee, while others may struggle to meet even their most basic needs. And even if the conflict were to end tomorrow, it will take years to repair the damage to cities, homes, families and people. The Red Cross stands ready to answer the call and help the most vulnerable impacted by this crisis.
Role of the American Red Cross
Since the conflict escalated in February, the American Red Cross has contributed over $53 million to Ukraine crisis relief efforts. This includes over $40 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the most vital humanitarian needs of those affected, including food, shelter, critical care items and first aid.
The American Red Cross has also contributed $2 million to the ICRC to support their life-saving efforts within Ukraine. Additional contributions include $8.8 million to the Danish Red Cross and $1.9 million to the Romanian Red Cross for relief efforts within Ukraine to provide food and non-perishable food items, first aid kits, blankets and hygiene kits to people displaced within Ukraine.
The American Red Cross has committed an additional $12.5 million to partners on the ground — including World Central Kitchen, CORE and International Medical Corps — to provide food, shelter, aid and medical supplies within Ukraine and other impacted countries.
The American Red Cross has deployed 26 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 crisis 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 50 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.
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. In Ukraine, over 200 health facilities and 1,635 educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed. 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
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. For more information about the American Red Cross support, visit redcross.org/Ukraine.
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.