Since the very first hours after temperatures around Europe plunged below zero degrees, Red Cross volunteers and staff have been assisting the most vulnerable people by setting up heated tents to provide makeshift accommodation and by dispensing hot food, blankets and warm clothes, and by providing direct assistance to local reception centres for elderly and homeless people.
“In Ireland we are lucky this year to have experienced a mild winter but we must be mindful of the elderly and homeless in Ireland as they remain vulnerable to colder temperatures. The unexpected cold snap currently being experienced in the UK and across mainland Europe should remind us to be prepared for similar temperatures. ” said Donal Forde, Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross.
In the last few days, an extreme cold weather snap has gripped countries in Central and Eastern Europe with wind, heavy snow and Siberiastyle temperatures, in some areas as low as 30 C, which have so far claimed over 130 lives by hypothermia and frostbite. The majority of the victims are homeless people, already victims of the prolonged economic crisis.
“Red Cross volunteers are responding Europe wide to prevent further loss. In Poland the homeless are being offered warm, safe, shelter in Red Cross Hostels, in Bulgaria and Belgrade and many of the countries experiencing these freezing temperatures hot food and drinks are being provided to the most vulnerable.” said Forde.
Volunteers from the Irish Red Cross stand prepared to assist in the event of Ireland experiencing a similar cold snap. In 2010 volunteers around the country were in involved in search and rescue operations as well as providing fuel and food to families stranded in their homes by the snow.
IRC Web caption = Red Cross volunteers in Belarus bring warm clothing and hot meals to the homeless people of the city. Photo: Belarussian Red Cross