Disaster Alert: Ukraine

Geneva/Moscow/Kiev (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is extremely concerned about spiraling violence in Ukraine, and about the lack of respect for medical and humanitarian work and for those carrying it out.

“Scores of people in the streets of Kiev and across Ukraine are in need of urgent medical aid. A Ukrainian Red Cross Society volunteer was wounded today while providing medical assistance,” said Pascal Cuttat, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation covering the Russian Federation, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. “We have received further reports of Ukrainian Red Cross staff and volunteers being harassed and of other impediments to their work. This is unacceptable. We are calling on everyone involved in the violence to show restraint and to ensure that medical personnel and humanitarian staff, and the facilities and vehicles they are using, are spared.”

Since the onset of the events in 2013, Ukrainian Red Cross emergency response teams have administered first aid to the wounded of both sides. In the last 48 hours they assisted more than 360 people.

The ICRC has been providing financial and technical support enabling the Ukrainian Red Cross to boost its ability to meet needs throughout the country in close coordination with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The ICRC has staff on the ground and is in dialogue with representatives of the government and the opposition.

Mr Cuttat said that, despite the challenging environment, the Ukrainian Red Cross was doing its utmost to provide neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian aid. “More than 50 volunteers of the emergency response team in Kiev are working around the clock.” For the Ukrainian Red Cross to be able to continue working, he said, everyone involved in ongoing clashes has to respect humanitarian staff and health-care workers.

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