7 Weeks of war: the many faces of EU solidarity with Ukraine
More than 11 million people displaced — over 4.5 million of them outside the borders of Ukraine. Women and children, the old and the infirm, fleeing their homes. Death and destruction for those who stayed behind. The horror of war shows its face once again in Europe, following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Seven weeks since the beginning of the war, we have witnessed some of humanity’s worst moments. But we have also witnessed hope in the form of the warm welcome the refugees have received around Europe. And in the form of EU solidarity with Ukraine and its people, through the following ways.
1. Emergency support package
Soon after the war broke out, the EU announced an emergency support package of €550 million for response activities dealing with the humanitarian consequences of the Ukraine crisis. Of this amount, we allocated €85 million to Ukraine and €8 million to Moldova as humanitarian aid.
Humanitarian aid in Ukraine is channelled via our humanitarian partners on the ground: UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and non-governmental organisations. Our partners are working selflessly under extremely challenging conditions to ensure that aid reaches those who need it most.
Many EU humanitarian partners have quickly scaled up their presence in Ukraine, despite the security and access constraints.
The EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department is present in Ukraine since 2014. It is working in close coordination with humanitarian partners, donors, and the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that the humanitarian assistance provided responds to the needs assessed and reaches those who need it the most.
2. Support via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism
Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to the largest ever operation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
At its heart, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) works around the clock coordinating the unprecedented amount of assistance channeled to Ukraine and other affected countries by all EU countries plus Norway and Turkey.
Logistics hubs have been established in Ukraine’s neighbours — Poland, Romania, and Slovakia — to optimise the delivery of the assistance to Ukraine.
As of 10 April, over 15,000 tonnes of assistance has been shipped from the EU logistics hubs. The assistance provided via the Mechanism ranges from food, medical supplies and hygiene items to fire trucks, ambulances, and energy infrastructure.
3. Medical evacuations
Amongst the most vulnerable refugees and displaced people are the chronically ill patients who desperately need specialised medical care. The EU has set up and is funding a dedicated system for medical evacuation operations to transfer the patients to countries where they can receive the treatment they need.
As of 10 April, 32 patients have been transferred from Poland and Moldova to countries across Europe. The medical evacuations are facilitated by the ERCC, in partnership with the national health authorities and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC.
rescEU was set up in 2019 to reinforce and strengthen the EU’s disaster risk management.
The rescEU emergency reserves (medical supplies, medical evacuation planes) have already been mobilised for Ukraine. Medical equipment from the rescEU medical stockpiles hosted by Hungary, Germany and the Netherlands has been mobilised for Ukraine and Moldova.
In March 2022, the first rescEU medical evacuation plane entered service to transfer two Ukrainian patients from Poland to Norway.
Recently, the European Commission announced that it is building up a strategic reserve of response capacities to health risks such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. This is done in cooperation with the EU’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
5. Coordinating donations from the private sector
As part of the Stand Up for Ukraine campaign, the European Commission created a new system to channel in-kind donations from the private sector to Ukraine, Moldova and EU countries hosting Ukrainian refugees, to help cater for the needs of internally displaced and refugees.
The EU coordinates the donations and the deliveries in cooperation with the civil protection authorities of Belgium, through the rescEU strategic reserves.
The first donations are already in the pipeline and concern antidotes against chemical toxins, medicines, and vaccines. Private companies who wish to donate significant volumes are invited to contact the Commission via ECHOfirstname.lastname@example.org.
6. EU experts on the ground
The EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department has set up a field office in Lviv, Ukraine and Chisinau, Moldova. With a team of eight humanitarian experts on the ground, the EU is coordinating with partners to ensure that this life-saving assistance reaches the people in need.
The EU has also deployed civil protection teams to Poland and Slovakia to help manage the unprecedented amount of EU Member States’ in-kind assistance flowing through the EU logistics hubs to Ukraine.
In addition, another EU Civil Protection Team was in Moldova to coordinate the arrival of incoming in-kind assistance offered to the country.
7. EU Humanitarian operation in Moldova
To enhance the EU’s emergency response and support humanitarian partners on the ground, the EU is rolling out a humanitarian operation in the Republic of Moldova on top of the previous humanitarian and Civil Protection activities in the country.
Developed by the European Humanitarian Response Capacity, the operation consists of the set-up of a hub in Chisinau at the disposal of humanitarian partners to facilitate aid deployment and the delivery of over 1,200 EU-owned tents and 4,000 blankets for people displaced by the conflict.
By Yolanda Valassopoulou, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.