Humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and neighbouring countries

It is hard to exaggerate the toll that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has had on civilians in recent months, on top of eight years of grinding conflict in Donbas. Civilians have been killed and injured. Millions of people have poured into neighbouring countries to seek safety. Others have lived much of the last months underground seeking shelter from bombs. Homes, schools, hospitals, and other critical civilian infrastructure have been destroyed. Entire cities have been heavily damaged.

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Apartment block and recreational buildings hit by strike in Serhiivka, Ukraine. ICRC

The ICRC has worked in Ukraine since 2014. To meet the rising needs, the ICRC has scaled up its work across the areas directly affected by the hostilities and in neighbouring countries in close coordination with the Ukrainian Red Cross and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.

Our staff work in Lviv, Kamieniec Podolski, Vinnytsya, Kyiv, Poltava, Dnipro, Odesa, Sloviansk, Luhansk and Donetsk alongside our partners the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to save lives and alleviate suffering of civilians.

To support our regional response, we set up new offices in Moldova, Hungary, Poland and Romania and expanded the operational capacities of our delegation in Russia, which we opened in 1992. We deployed hundreds of staff to support the response, including surgical teams, weapons contaminations experts, and other specialists.

EMERGENCY RELIEF

With the Ukrainian Red Cross and other Red Cross partners, the ICRC is providing emergency assistance to people living in conflict zones or those displaced by the fighting. This includes food for over 800,000 people and hygiene items, kitchen sets, household appliances, mattresses, blankets and other essential supplies to over 300,000 internally displaced people. More than 200,000 people received cash assistance to help them cover emergency expenses. In Moldova, the ICRC, together with the Red Cross Society of the Republic of Moldova, delivered food parcels and hygiene kits to 5,000 families, while another 600 families received cash assistance in the Transnistria region.

HEALTH

The ICRC, together with the Ukrainian Red Cross and other Red Cross partners, is helping people get timely access to medical care, including the wounded and sick. We are also helping care for the invisible wounds of the international armed conflict, with a psychosocial support hotline, psychosocial support sessions in displacement centres and psychosocial support trainings for Ukrainian Red Cross staff and volunteers.

ESSENTIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

The ICRC also stepped up its efforts to mitigate disruptions to essential services like water. This includes trucking water to areas affected by supply disruptions, providing water trucks and tanks to local service providers, and helping local water boards with water treatment chemicals and repairs. This work is benefiting millions of people directly affected by the conflict. The ICRC has also donated power generators to key facilities like health centres, water-pumping stations, and displacement centres and provided families in conflict-affected areas materials to repair their homes.

PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS AND INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

The ICRC continues to remind the parties to the international armed conflict in Ukraine of their obligations under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. This is one of ICRC's less visible areas of work, but it is no less constant or vital. It means we speak directly and confidentially with the parties about their responsibility by law to protect civilians and the infrastructure they rely on as well as other protected groups like prisoners of war.

These bilateral, confidential conversations with the sides of the international armed conflict in Ukraine also allowed us to facilitate the evacuation of thousands of civilians from Mariupol and Sumy. It has also allowed us to start visiting some prisoners of war, which we are entitled to do under the Third Geneva Convention, and share news with their families. We continue to speak with the parties about our right to visit all prisoners of war held in relation to the international armed conflict in Ukraine, wherever they are held, as more families await for news from their loved ones.

RESTORING FAMILY LINKS

The ICRC set up a dedicated bureau of the Central Tracing Agency for the Ukraine crisis in 2022. The CTA Bureau collects, centralizes, and transmits information about the fate and whereabouts of people, both military and civilians deprived of their liberty, who have fallen in the hands of the enemy. Additionally, the CTA Bureau, in coordination with its wider network of ICRC delegations and Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies, helps any families who have been separated due to the conflict to find their missing relatives.

See also our page Conflict in Ukraine