Ukraine crisis: What the ICRC is doing

The ICRC has a delegation in Kiev, offices in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Odessa and sub-offices in Severodonetsk and Mariupol. We have over 50 staff in the country, and are currently sending further specialists.

The status of Crimea is currently disputed and this map does not indicate any ICRC position regarding that situation.

Medical assistance

Since April 2014, the ICRC has been providing medical supplies to more than 25 health facilities in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions. Dozens of hospitals in the Donetsk, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Krasnyi Lyman, Luhansk, Lysychansk, Rubizhne, Starobilsk, Izium and Kharkiv regions have received supplies they urgently needed in order to treat the wounded.

Displaced persons

  • The Ukrainian Red Cross Society has distributed food, hygiene kits, household essentials, clothing and other items to more than 10,000 people, and the ICRC and the Ukrainian Red Cross are planning to step up aid to people in Kharkiv and Mariupol.
  • On 1 July, volunteers from the Kharkov branch of the Ukrainian Red Cross and ICRC staff conducted a joint assessment of the living conditions of displaced persons in Sviatohirsk (Donetsk region) in order to provide them with aid that corresponds to their actual needs. Assistance for displaced people in the Kharkov region is now being prepared.
  • The ICRC is currently taking steps to enhance the economic security of displaced persons, and is considering providing aid for displaced people now returning to places such as Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
  • At the end of July, the ICRC sent a specialist to Kiev to train Ukrainian Red Cross personnel in the handling of tracing requests.

Forensic assistance

  • Following the Malaysia Airlines crash on 17 July, the ICRC distributed body bags and other supplies and equipment for managing dead bodies, and offered its forensic advice to ensure that proper standards were followed. It underlined the need to act quickly and follow correct procedures in searching for, collecting, managing and identifying the remains.
  • Since 26 July, an ICRC forensic expert has been permanently based in Donetsk to ensure continuing forensic assistance in the field. Another forensic expert will soon join the ICRC office in Kharkiv to provide assistance in connection with the recent exhumation of bodies in Eastern Ukraine.
  • The ICRC has also been providing other forensic assistance. In June, for example we helped the Luhansk Branch of the Ukrainian Red Cross to collect bodies in the towns of Shchastya and Metalist.

Detainee welfare

  • ICRC delegates are visiting people detained in connection with the current situation. The purely humanitarian aim of these visits is to assess the conditions in which the people are being held and the treatment they receive. The details of the visits remain confidential.
  • The ICRC is continuing its efforts with all parties to the conflict to obtain unrestricted access to all persons detained in connection with the crisis.

Supporting the Ukrainian Red Cross Society

  • The ICRC is helping the Ukrainian Red Cross expand its ability to administer first aid and provide other humanitarian services in emergency situations.
  • At the end of June, the ICRC provided support for a three-day training course for all active emergency response teams of the Ukrainian Red Cross.
  • In July, with the support of local Ukrainian Red Cross branches, the ICRC distributed medical supplies and hygiene items to Mariupol and to some hospitals in Luhansk.
  • An ICRC specialist arrived in Kiev at the end of July to train Ukrainian Red Cross employees in the handling of tracing requests.

Dialogue with the armed and security forces and with police

Since May 2014, the ICRC has been conducting a series of workshops for the various security forces in Ukraine. The participants have included National Guard officers, Ukrainian Armed Forces officers and legal advisers, and other military personnel. The aim is to establish a dialogue with the authorities and to inform the participants about the ICRC and about the basic rules of international humanitarian law – particularly the provisions applicable in a non-international armed conflict, which is the situation currently obtaining in eastern Ukraine.

Special focus: Donbas region


  • The ICRC is providing medical facilities in the Donetsk region with regular support. In addition to the general aid delivered to all facilities, hospitals in urban areas are receiving extra surgical supplies, while those in more remote areas are receiving extra first-aid items.
  • The ICRC offers its tracing services for people who have lost contact with a relative as a result of the current situation in eastern Ukraine. Individuals can approach the organization with information about the disappearance or alleged arrest of the person sought. The ICRC then contacts the authorities to try to find out where the person might be. Where possible, the ICRC collects and distributes messages between relatives separated from one another by the conflict.
  • The ICRC has set up a partnership with Ukrainian Red Cross branches in the Donetsk region to deliver relief to people suffering the effects of the conflict.
  • A part of a programme for people displaced from the Donbas region, the ICRC will soon start issuing vouchers to displaced persons in Mariupol. They will be able to use these vouchers to purchase food and hygiene items. The ICRC is examining the possibility of taking similar action in Donetsk.

Kharkiv region

  • As part of our support programme for displaced persons in the Donbas region, the ICRC will soon begin distributing vouchers in Kharkiv region, which has received the largest number of displaced people. In Kharkiv, as in Mariupol, the ICRC will initially be supporting ongoing Ukrainian Red Cross distributions to displaced people. IDP households approaching the URCS distribution site will be also provided with relief items. Displaced people will also receive cash vouchers that they can redeem for food and hygiene items at nearby supermarkets.
  • The Ukrainian Red Cross and the ICRC will be carrying out household visits to identify displaced people already assisted in the first phase who require further assistance.
  • The ICRC has been assisting medical facilities in the region for a number of weeks.

Rostov region

  • As at 19 July, 33,000 people displaced from Ukraine were registered with the Federal Migration Service in the Rostov region. The ICRC has provided technical support and a vehicle for the local Russian Red Cross branch, which has begun distributing 120 tonnes of food to displaced people staying with families in the region. The aid was paid for by donations made to the branch.
  • On 26 July the ICRC helped repatriate three seriously injured Ukrainian soldiers by arranging for their transport from a hospital near Rostov, where they were in intensive care, to an aircraft that took them back to Ukraine. The repatriation was organized by the Ukrainian authorities.

Northern Caucasus

In July, with support from local Russian Red Cross branches, the ICRC assisted people displaced from Ukraine who had taken refuge in the northern Caucasus. In Dagestan, we distributed food, clothes, baby food hygiene requisites and other items to over 300 displaced people who were staying in two sanatoria. In Kabardino-Balkaria, a joint ICRC/Russian Red Cross operation enabled 150 displaced people living in two temporary accommodation centres to contact family members in Ukraine by mobile phone.


On the basis of an assessment of needs conducted in June, the ICRC and Red Cross branches in Crimea provided food and other aid to people displaced from the south-east of Ukraine who were living in tented camps, hotels, sanatoriums, and elsewhere. The aid included household essentials, tents, mattresses, sheets, hygiene kits, baby food and food kits. At the end of July, around 3,000 people had received this aid.