War in Ukraine: The SRC approves CHF 10 million in emergency aid and demands unbureaucratic admission
The SRC is allocating an initial 10 million Swiss francs to help people affected the war in Ukraine. Experts from the SRC's emergency relief pool are working to support the coordinated aid provided by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. At the same time, the SRC advocates rapid and unbureaucratic admission of people in need of protection into Switzerland.
The situation in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries is becoming increasingly dramatic. The scale of human suffering is immense. Many are in fear for their lives and for their family members. The Red Cross has experts and volunteers on the ground. The Ukrainian Red Cross has deployed 550 employees and 3,000 volunteers. They are evacuating people, providing first aid and distributing food and beverages to families seeking refuge in metro stations and other safe spaces. People who are fleeing the conflict are also being provided with basic necessities.
ICRC has 600 employees on the ground
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has over 600 employees in the region. Together with its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners it is reacting to the growing humanitarian needs and is providing urgently needed aid. The ICRC is engaged in a confidential and bilateral dialogue with all sides to ensure that the civilian population and their access to essential services, accommodation and the entire infrastructure vital for survival are protected at all times.
Enormous need in neighbouring countries too
In neighbouring countries too, which are taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees, needs in the border regions in particular are enormous. Here too the Red Cross is distributing essential goods, providing emergency shelter and offering psychosocial support. Depending on the situation, cash is being handed out so that people who had to abandon everything can buy the basics and pay for transport. The Red Cross is also handing out telephone cards so that the refugees can stay in contact with their family members.
SRC experts deployed
The SRC is contributing funds to this comprehensive aid and providing experts from its emergency relief pool. Two emergency aid logisticians are working in Hungary to support the coordinated aid of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. One expert will soon be seconded to Moldava. Additional emergency aid experts are standing by to travel as soon as they are needed. The SRC is transporting 322 family tents to Hungary from its warehouses in Bern and Italy, which will be used for emergency accommodation. The SRC has also set up a digital donation platform for the Ukrainian Red Cross, which has already received several million dollars in international donations.
The SRC has implemented longer-term development projects in Ukraine for several years and has a good network there.
Preparations in Switzerland
In Switzerland, the SRC and its cantonal associations are in close contact with the authorities in order to prepare for the admission of refugees. Around 500 members of the pool of volunteers from the 5th coronavirus wave are ready to be deployed if needed. This pool comprises members of the SRC rescue organizations and volunteers from cantonal associations. Furthermore, the SRC is advising people in Switzerland who have lost contact with family members in Ukraine owing to the war or who wish to bring family members to Switzerland.
SRC calling for generous admission policy
The SRC considers that Switzerland – with its humanitarian tradition – has a duty to help overcome the humanitarian crisis on the ground and to take in refugees, in close cooperation with its European partners. It welcomes the indications that Switzerland will adopt a generous policy on taking in Ukrainian refugees. Refugees from Ukraine – regardless of their nationality – should be granted rapid and unbureaucratic protection. At the same time, the pragmatic admission of refugees from Ukraine should not be at the expense of people fleeing from other crisis regions.
Keeping families together
In the SRC's view, it is crucial that families are not separated at the border. It should be possible for Ukrainian nationals who live in Switzerland to bring in family members quickly and without undue bureaucracy. Family reunification procedures must be given priority and expedited, and the criteria must be pragmatic and adapted to the context. Over one million people have already left Ukraine, and more continue to flee the violence within the country.