The situation on the ground

On 24 February 2022, the armed conflict in Ukraine intensified, and hostilities have spread to affect most parts of the country.

It’s estimated up to 18 million people have been affected, many of them living in active conflict zones facing loss of power, heating, water and health care. Almost a third of the population has had to flee their home, with over 7 million people internally displaced and more than 7.8 million who have fled the country and are now considered to be refugees.1

The number of civilian casualties has surpassed 14,248, including 5,827 killed and 8,421 injured.2

Local Red Cross response

Since the conflict escalated, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) has been at the forefront of the response, helping more than six million people with relief supplies, helping with evacuations and rescue services, cash and voucher assistance, first aid and psychosocial support.3 Together with Movement partners, URCS also provides emergency health services to internally displaced people (IDPs) and public health authorities.

The Ukrainian Red Cross Society (URCS) has delivered thousands of food and hygiene kits to the border regions of Chernihiv Oblast. Photo: URCS.

Since February 2022, tens of thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff have rapidly mobilised in Ukraine, in 17 neighbouring countries and beyond, including in Australia. Using their local presence, knowledge and experience, personnel from the Red Cross National Societies in these countries were some of the first to respond. Whether it has been helping families evacuate and providing medical assistance or giving a warm meal and mental health support for people experiencing trauma, Red Cross is there to support the people who need us.

Yana was a bank manager and confectioner before the shelling started in her region of central Ukraine. “I woke up on 24 February not knowing what was going on. We heard very loud sirens. There immediately was no internet so it was terrifying. I have two children who were then aged two and six months. I heard bombings so my husband said we must go. My husband had to stay. I had a very stressful time leaving and I lost my breastmilk.” After many days Yana and her children arrived in northern Poland where they received help from the local Red Cross. “Red Cross gave us diapers, baby food, new clothes. It’s super important for the children to have more clothes. I left with only two sets of clothing for each of us.” Photo: Brynja Dögg Friðriksdóttir/IFRC.

The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) works to coordinate and support the work of National Societies, acting before, during and after emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of people in vulnerable situations. The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) is an independent, neutral and impartial organisation ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for those impacted by armed conflict and other situations of violence. It promotes the laws of war, International Humanitarian Law, a set of rules protecting people who are not or no longer participating in hostilities and restricting the means and methods of warfare.

We are part of one Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and Australian Red Cross contributes to both the IFRC and ICRC responses and to responses of National Societies.

In the last nine months, the Movement has reached more than 10 million people impacted by the conflict in Ukraine4, providing essential humanitarian aid, healthcare including mental health support, cash and voucher assistance, water and sanitation services, and supporting voluntary evacuations from armed-conflict-affected areas. The IFRC has launched one of its largest responses in recent memory, coordinating aid from National Societies all over the world, both in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries. The ICRC has massively scaled up its response, with some 700 staff working in 10 locations within Ukraine in response to the humanitarian crisis brought on by the armed conflict.


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