As families search for safety across the Middle East and Europe, the global Red Cross network is providing them vital humanitarian assistance. 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, assistance with reconnecting separated family members, and psychosocial support.
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 remote information management and mapping support to the Red Cross network—essential assistance for an emergency of this scale, which can overwhelm local Red Crescent branches.
Recent months have seen a shift in migration routes to Europe; although many families continue to cross from Libya to Italy, the majority now cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, continuing northward along the Western Balkans route which links Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and beyond. At present, most migrants are coming from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and there is no indication that the number of people forced to risk their lives to make this journey will decrease.
More than 180,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece this year. In the past three weeks, more than 8,000 people have received assistance from Hellenic Red Cross teams, including food parcels, hygiene packs, infant packs, and sleeping bags. The Red Cross is helping connect family members who have been separated throughout their ordeal. 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 more than 20,000 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.
More than 154,000 people fleeing conflict and extreme poverty have entered Hungary this year and the Hungarian Red Cross is providing food, hot drinks, blankets and waterproof covers. Volunteers have been offering first aid services to migrants at Nyugati train station in Budapest.
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 and take a shower, and get something to eat.
More than 7,000 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.
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.
People can help by joining the call for the protection of vulnerable migrants. On Thursday September 17, the global Red Cross network is launching a campaign on migration called: Protect Humanity – Stop indifference, where we ask people to stand in solidarity with vulnerable migrants by signing our call for protection, and to guarantee their safety and dignity, without discrimination, at every stage of their journey. From September 17 onwards, people can add their own voice to our collective call at www.ifrc.org/protecthumanity and help make the responsibility to #ProtectHumanity a universal one. Because raising your voice is also an act of solidarity.