Update 6 September 2022
We have received the following update on the work that the British Red Cross is doing to help Ukrainian refugees, with a particular focus on those arriving in the UK.
Ukraine Crisis Update: Six Months On
It has now been six months since the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and the resulting crisis is on a scale that Europe has not seen for decades with more than 18 million people urgently in need of humanitarian assistance.
With your support, on-the-ground teams have worked tirelessly to provide emergency relief to more than 5 million people so far. Since the conflict began, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have been able to:
- Distribute £56 million in emergency financial assistance to 626,000 people
- Reach 718,000 people with vital healthcare interventions
- Provide 367,000 people with mental health and psychosocial support
- Enable 8 million people to benefit from improved access to water
- Support 10,000 people arriving from Ukraine in the UK
On behalf of the British Red Cross, we’d like to thank you for your support. Please continue reading to see how your support is helping to change lives for Ukrainian people arriving in the UK.
Support for Ukrainian people arriving in the UK
Throughout this conflict, people continue to face the unimaginable: leaving their homes, leaving their jobs, and leaving their families. Escaping from the conflict is just the beginning of a long journey to recovery but that journey has started thanks to the generosity of companies such as yours.
While teams continue to respond across Europe, British Red Cross operations teams have been working around the clock at airports, transport hubs, temporary accommodation, and community centres to assist 10,000 people with both practical and emotional assistance here in the UK. We have provided cash-based support, issued mobile phone SIM cards, and helped people to access appointments and social activities.
The scale of support provided has been huge with 48,023 calls answered by our Ukraine helpline,14,640 SIM cards distributed, and £1,013,550 provided in cash assistance to Ukrainian individuals in the UK.
Cathy is a British Red Cross Emergency Response Officer who has been supporting Ukrainian arrivals at Luton and Stanstead airports, mostly mothers with children and their elderly relatives. She says:
“When people first arrive the SIM cards are what they ask for because that allows them to have contact with their loved ones at home…The response is one of gratitude, they are happy to see how the UK has opened up its arms to everyone and helped in so many ways.”
Support for Ukrainian refugees remains a focus for our teams. More than 10 million people have now fled Ukraine and we expect the numbers to rise significantly in the months ahead. It is estimated, for example, that between 3,000 to 10,000 people from Ukraine will arrive in Scotland alone in the next 90 days. As the cost-of-living crisis unfolds in the UK, making sure there isn’t a cliff edge where families who have arrived from Ukraine could face homelessness is a priority.
The demand is such that our Refugee Support Services are recruiting additional caseworkers to meet the growing needs. As the UK’s largest independent provider of services for refugees and people seeking asylum, we will continue to be there for people in the years to come. This will include integrating people with their new communities, reconnecting families who have been separated by the conflict, and helping people to navigate the country’s asylum-seeking system.
You can find out more about our support for refugees here and you can listen to people who have been supported by our services through our award-winning Voices podcast, which has been produced by refugees and people seeking asylum. If you’d like to know more about our work with refugees, please do let us know.
The scale of your support has been immense. Thank you from all of us at the British Red Cross.
Update 7 April 2022
Read this statement from UN Women, released 7 April 2022: https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/statement/2022/04/ukraine-un-high-level-officials-urge-the-swift-investigation-of-sexual-violence-allegations-and-call-for-strengthened-measures-to-protect-women-and-girls
Update 21 March 2022
The statement below has been drawn up by the Europe & North America CSW Caucus which works with other like-minded organisations to help women and girls to realise their full potential. SIGBI has signed this as well as SI and SIE. Lobbying our parliaments and MPs about implementation of 1325 for Ukraine and all other areas of conflict, such as Afghanistan and Syria, is important. Experience has shown that involving women in peace negotiations is more successful and, since women and children are most affected by conflict, is a matter dear to our hearts.
Helping people in and from Ukraine
Originally published 21 March 2022
The continuing war in Ukraine continues to distress us all and stimulates the wish to help those affected directly. How can we do this effectively and ensure that our help reaches those in need? There are two ‘places’ where our help is needed – within and without Ukraine.
Within the Ukraine and neighbouring countries
The need there is for safe passage for those wishing to leave their homes and for food, water and medical supplies for all. The two groups are those wishing to leave Ukraine (refugees) and those choosing to remain many of whom have migrated westwards within Ukraine (Internally Displaced People, IDPs). My experience in several countries, including Georgia, is that those best able to help are the agencies with experience, resources and well tried and tested protocols. This ensures a more reliable supply chain and the ability to move across borders as well as within the areas of conflict. I believe that the two organisations best able to do this are the UN agencies, especially the UNHCR, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent networks. Finding your way around these needs prior knowledge of how they work so I hope that the following paragraphs help.
The UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – has much more detailed information which you might wish to explore at https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/briefing/2022/3/623453f14/unhcr-warns-rising-needs-ukraine-neighbouring-countries-calls-cessation.html and https://www.unhcr.org/services-for-refugees/?utm_source=unhcr.org&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=HQ_HE_EN_orgpocs. They also work to coordinate other agencies, joining them in partnership. This helps to avoid duplication and in making help available to those in need.
Other UN agencies such as UNICEF, WHO and the World Food Programme are also engaged in trying to help Ukraine.
Red Cross – there are two parts to this. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC – https://www.icrc.org/en/what-we-do) and the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies which is the umbrella for all 192 national societies (IFRC – https://www.ifrc.org). All these elements work together to deliver humanitarian aid worldwide.
The ICRC which is responsible for the Geneva Conventions has recently posted an update for the Ukraine (https://www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-president-suffering-mariupol-must-not-become-future-ukraine). For those wishing to explore the law in conflict see https://www.icrc.org/en/war-and-law.
The IFRC has been assessing need and deploying staff and other resources since December 2021 – see https://prddsgofilestorage.blob.core.windows.net/api/event-featured-documents/file/MGR65002_UKR_OperationalStrategy.pdf.
SI Europe has a Disasters Response Fund (DRF) which is equivalent to our ERF. There are many SI clubs across all countries involved in this issue. Several of them have projects for VAW in countries affected by the conflict – https://soroptimist-projects.org/portfolio_category/violenceagainstwomen/. You can support these through the DRF.
SIGBI has donated £5000 to the Red Cross and £1000 to the DRF, from our ERF.
Within the UK
This, of course, is not the whole story. So, how can we, as soroptimists help those in need? All our members can donate to these international agencies and for clubs/members in the UK through the Disasters Emergency Committee. The ask is for money not goods – for an explanation of this see https://www.redcross.org.uk/get-involved/donate/donation-questions/emergency-appeals#Cash. For an explanation of how to help from the Charity Commission for England and Wales see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ukraine-humanitarian-crisis-guidance-for-charities-and-trustees?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications-topic&utm_source=33ffbc5b-dc4a-47e1-b7ca-e813d316f943&utm_content=immediately
If you have clothing to donate then please take items to the charity shop of your choice. Not all agencies will be working in the Ukraine but may well be seeking to help refugees coming to the UK.
If you wish to accommodate refugees then you can enrol with the UK Government’s scheme at https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk. This can be done as an individual or organisation. Organisationally for SIGBI this means individual clubs working with others, as we do for women escaping domestic violence. The agencies best placed to help in this situation are local authorities and the Refugee Councils:
- England – https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/homes-for-ukraine-scheme-refugee-council-response/
- NI – https://nicrascom.wordpress.com
- Scotland – https://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk
- Wales – https://wrc.wales
- RoI – https://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie
There will, I am sure be refugee centres, but this will be particular to your local areas.
Other needs of refugees are money, family reunion, help with settling into a new culture/community. For help with this see the advice from the British Red Cross at https://www.redcross.org.uk/get-help/get-help-as-a-refugee which has long and extensive experience in doing so.
There are examples of trafficking at the borders of Ukraine so we need to be alert for women affected in this way. They could be arriving near you. UKPAC has long been working on this vexed subject. See https://sigbi.org/ukpac/our-work/modern-day-slavery-human-trafficking/ for more information.
Hopefully a ceasefire and peace between the Ukraine and Russia will be achieved. Experience of doing this illustrates that it is more successful when women are involved. See President Cathy’s letter to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in which we asked for implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security). Sadly the response told us about the Government’s view of their help for Ukraine but no mention of SCR 1325. You could lobby your MP about this; I have.
The CSW66 is running at present and much concern over Ukraine has been raised with the Government Equalities Office and through the North America and European Caucus, of which we are members. Agreement has been reached that we should lobby for full implementation of SCR 1325 and related resolutions. Watch this space for updates.
I hope this helps set out the current situation and how we, as soroptimists, can contribute to helping the refugees and IDPs most effectively.
Originally published 4 March 2022
SIGBI Ltd shares the mounting concern about the devastating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and the attacks on the lives, livelihoods, safety and welfare of the Ukrainian people.
SIGBI’s Emergency Relief Fund has already donated £5,000 to the British Red Cross Ukrainian Appeal to help those refugees who are fleeing the armed conflict, and those remaining in the Ukraine, plus £1,000 to Soroptimist International of Europe’s Disaster Relief Fund.
A letter has been sent from Cathy Cottridge, President of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland, to Elizabeth Truss MP, Foreign Secretary, urging her to implement UN Resolution 1325 in this situation:
The latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show that one million people have left the country, and many more thousands are displaced from their homes within Ukraine. The ICRC together with the Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers are reaching as many people as possible, distributing food and hygiene parcels, and helping evacuate people with disabilities. Teams have also provided first aid training to people in metro stations and bomb shelters, and are supporting fire fighters, medical and civil protection units.
Donating to help Ukraine
The Charity Commission has released the advice below on safe giving to charities to support Ukraine. Links to safe charities are also included below:
We would ask Members and Clubs who may wish to donate to give funds, not items of clothing/food etc, via the following appeals:
Disasters Emergency Committee.
This is match funded by the UK Government at present.
British Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The UN Refuge Agency
Soroptimist International of Europe
SIGBI Ltd urges all parties involved in this conflict to swiftly work for an agreed peaceful outcome.