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Since the escalation of international armed conflict in Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the devastation continues to affect every aspect of people’s lives. The humanitarian crisis has resulted in massive civilian casualties, severe harm to critical infrastructure and livelihoods, and widespread displacement leading to a wide-ranging humanitarian crisis.

Since February 2022, the Irish Red Cross working alongside partners from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have supported millions of people impacted by the conflict, in Ukraine, neighbouring countries as well as here in Ireland where people have sought refuge. This includes immediate cash relief assistance, health and care, psychosocial support, as well as support to housing.

Health and Psychosocial support

Analysis of combat trauma data shows that over a third of all deaths, and approximately 80% of all preventable combat-related deaths are due to severe haemorrhage. Throughout 2023 and 2024, IRC in collaboration with University College Dublin Centre for Emergency Medical Science is supporting their initiative ‘Ukraine Trauma Project’ that provides training to Ukrainian emergency services in advanced trauma care. Along with this training to medical personnel on advanced techniques to control massive bleeding resulting from severe traumatic injuries, the initiative also provides essential medical equipment to deliver lifesaving treatment.

UCD train the trainer course in Kyiv, Ukraine 2023

Those within Ukraine and those displaced across borders have faced, and continue to face, critically stressful events stemming from two years of ongoing unpredictability and constant threat.

Addressing increased Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) needs in Ukraine is vital. In order to meet these needs, IRC has prioritised MHPSS support interventions. Throughout 2022 and 2023, IRC have supported movement partners in the development of training and material on Psychological First Aid (PFA), most notably the Danish RC in their Psychosocial Support (PSS) centre in Irpin. This centre is one of several Child Friendly Spaces providing activities for children affected by the conflict.

Looking forward, IRC plans on continuing its support to psychosocial initiatives addressing the deteriorating mental health conditions in Ukraine. In partnership with the Danish RC, we will be contributing to their overall MHPSS program which aims to secure URCS as the lead provider of high quality, community based MHPSS services. Given the high demand of these services and the expected increase in coming months and years, the programme aims to assist 160,000 affected people over the course of 2024 and 2025.

URCS volunteers at one of their branches in Vyshhorod city which provide health services such as MHPSS

Branch, Volunteer and Community Development

Scaling up humanitarian operations and preparing for sustained programming is the focus for the following two years as IRC partners with German RC and URCS in strengthening the capacities of regional branches and the local branches embedded in communities as well as the establishment of centres.

Given national society development is a key strategic priority for URCS, as it underpins their ability to maintain their response to current and future crises, IRC will be supporting the implementation the enhancement of branch and volunteer development (BraVo).

The “Safety School” project is implemented as part of the BraVo program where children are taught first aid skills and how to react to dangerous situations such as fire and flood.

IRC will be funding the implementation of the BraVo program in two regions, Vinnitsa and Ternopil for a two-year period. In these regions, the BraVo programme supports the development of the Regional Branch as well as 6 local branches across Vinnitsa and 8 local branches in Ternopil oblast. This aligns with efforts in strengthening local capacities and also aims to consolidate expertise and experience ensuring URCS becomes a partner of choice to its communities.

Additionally, IRC will be partnering with the German RC for the next two years in setting up Community Centres across Ukraine. These centres are envisioned to offer a comprehensive bunch of services, including psychosocial support, socio-economic empowerment activities (livelihoods) and protection initiatives. Community centres look to foster an inclusive environment and enhance community resilience by addressing psychological, social, and economic well-being, empowering individuals to identify and respond to the humanitarian needs they may encounter within their communities.

Protection, Gender and Inclusion

PGI workshops for senior volunteers at the Polish Red Cross club aged 60+, and for the humanitarian aid group aged 21 – 63.

Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) describes the approach used by the Red Cross to tacking the causes, risks and consequences of violence, discrimination and exclusion. A person’s sex, gender identity, race, nationality and many other factors can influence how they are vulnerable to, and affected by disasters and crises. A central feature of the PGI approach is to look at the intersection of primary themes such as Gender Based Violence (GBV), child protection and safeguarding, violence prevention, and disability inclusion.

Emergencies can also make existing inequalities worse. This can be seen in the increase in incidences of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), violence against children and trafficking in human beings during and after emergencies. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and subsequent displacement has put women and girls at increased risk of gender based violence (GBV). Although many internally displaced people are staying in private accommodation,a growing number are seeking refuge in collective shelters or centres. These facilities face overcrowded conditions, lack of separation by sex, and poor basic services greatly increasing the risk of GBV.

In 2023, IRC funded two PGI technical positions, one being regional in support of the 16 Days of Activism campaign and the second to cover the retainment of the Polish RC PGI Coordinator. The PGI Coordinator supported the implementation of PGI projects across 8 branches targeting both Ukrainian and Polish communities. The primary objective was to enhance social inclusion through recreational programs, language courses, and peer support as well as conduct trainings on PGI issues. A total of 631 people, comprising women, men, boys, and girls, including 87 people with disabilities, participated in these activities. 

The 16 days initiative, reaching 265 people, comprised of various activities, including awareness-raising sessions and workshops to educate participants about GBV in its various forms, and how and where to seek help. In addition, self-defence classes were organized for women, and social media campaign materials were translated into Ukrainian and Polish language to ensure equal access. PGI work ensures dignity, access, participation, and safety for all people.

Cash Assistance

Throughout the past two years, the IRC in partnership with government ministries has supported meeting the immense needs by providing ongoing cash assistance. In 2022, IRC assisted the conflict affected population in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries through delivering pre-paid cash cards or through Moneygram allowing people to purchase what they needed.

Red Cross team members in Romania accompany the first people from Ukraine to receive cash assistance via MoneyGram to ensure the process runs smoothly.

In 2023, IRCs support to the multi-purpose cash programme enabled Romanian Red Cross (RRC) to reach over 4,900 people with vital cash assistance. With the support of partners like the Irish Red Cross, RRC were able to establish an emergency cash intervention, providing EUR 115 per person directly to a total of 16,426 people in need. Additional cash assistance was provided to meet the urgent needs of particularly vulnerable households, including those with members who have disabilities, major health conditions, households with many children or other dependents, and other vulnerabilities during the winter months.


In Ukraine, the ongoing armed conflict has led to extensive damage to critical infrastructure, housing and essential services such as electricity, water, and heating systems. To address humanitarian needs worsened by winter in Ukraine, IRC supported the IFRC Winterisation Strategy over the past two years.


In 2022, funding was utilized to assist vulnerable groups such as those living in conflict prevalent areas, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and people living with disabilities. Activities included the distribution of winter relief items, mobile heating points and provision of generators.

Winter temperatures plummet as low as –20 degrees Celsius in parts of the country and the impact is felt by millions of Ukrainians living in damaged homes, sub-standard conditions or without sufficient personal insulation or access to heating. As a result, in 2023, IRC additionally provided further winter assistance to URCS to fund the cost of procuring and kitting out 4 mobile heating points. These points serve as multi-functional hubs, offering the affected population access to not just heating but also relief items, food, first aid, and a range of other services. This assistance remains available until the primary power supply or system is restored or until the affected population is safely evacuated during the months of freezing temperatures.

*Last updated May 2024