Skip to main content
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Assisting Ukraine: EU emergency relief in action

People in a crowded street
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Wojtek Radwanski)

Almost 1 month has passed since Russia launched its war of aggression on Ukraine.

In less than 4 weeks, the fighting has led to massive displacement and suffering. Nearly 6.5 million people have been internally displaced. Many have already fled the war to neighbouring countries. Almost 12.5 million Ukrainian civilians remain stranded in conflict-affected areas, seeking shelter from erupting battles on city streets.

Since the start of the invasion, the EU has been working around the clock to provide emergency relief to those in need.

Following an initial request from the Government of Ukraine on 15 February, the EU started coordinating the delivery of supplies via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism: a facility to organise rapid relief efforts among EU countries and an additional 6 participating countries.

In the days that have followed, European nations have rallied together in solidarity with Ukrainian people, offering an unprecedented amount of civil protection assistance in record time.

Jacket with civil protection logo
Assistance sent through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is being loaded onto trucks headed for Ukraine at a warehouse in Poland.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Lisa Hastert)

Supporting Ukraine

For the EU, the first priority continues to be Ukraine. To date, all 27 EU countries, plus Norway and Turkey, have offered in-kind assistance to the Ukrainian authorities.

This has included items such as medical supplies, medicine, shelter equipment as well as ambulances, firefighting equipment, power generators and water pumps. As of 23 March 2022, over 8,000 tonnes of relief items have been channelled to cities and towns throughout Ukraine.

With needs growing exponentially, further assistance is being mobilised every day. To help address pressing medical needs arising from the war, the EU is providing additional emergency aid items from the rescEU strategic reserve.

Vital equipment from the rescEU medical stockpile, notably ventilators, infusion pumps, patient monitors, masks and gowns, ultrasound devices and oxygen concentrators, worth over €10 million, is being shared with Ukraine.

In parallel, the EU is also channelling humanitarian aid to conflict-affected people in Ukraine, as well as to refugee in neighbouring countries, amounting to €93 million.

Our assistance includes food, water, health and protection, as well as support for basic needs. Humanitarian aid is being routed through our humanitarian partners who have promptly scaled up their operations in Ukraine.

Speaking about the ongoing relief effort, Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Russia’s war in Ukraine is amounting to a humanitarian catastrophe not seen in decades in Europe. People inside Ukraine are seeking safety. The EU, through its Civil Protection Mechanism, is coordinating 24/7 with Ukrainian authorities. The EU stands in full solidarity with Ukrainian people at this horrific time.”

Aid workers pointing at a map
EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid staff closely coordinate the delivery of emergency assistance to Ukraine with United Nations representatives
© European Union, 2022 (Photographer: Wojtek Radwanski)

Providing assistance to neighbouring countries

Civil protection assistance is also being supplied to Ukraine’s neighbours, where many civilians are seeking refuge.

According to the latest estimates, over 3.5 million people have sought shelter in Poland, Moldova and Slovakia, among others. The number continues to grow by the day.

In view of the mass inflow of civilians, Moldova activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on 24 February, asking for assistance to accommodate refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Slovakia and Poland did the same on 27 and 28 February. Czechia also requested support via the Mechanism on 11 March, seeking shelter sets, tents and other accommodation items.

So far, many European countries have offered temporary accommodation items and medical supplies, including Greece, Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, France, and Slovenia, among others.

In addition, Norway has also contributed as a participating state to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Helping on the ground

All of this is being organised through a number of civil protection logistics hubs, which were set up with the support of the European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) in neighbouring countries.

These centres are channelling the assistance delivered from European countries via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in response to the requests for assistance by Ukraine.

At the beginning of the crisis, 2 hubs were established in Poland and Romania to expedite the delivery of aid. Another hub has just started operating in Slovakia.

Refugees near the temporary canteen
Refugees near the temporary canteen near the Palanca customs, Moldova.
© European Union, 2022 (photographer: Dan Gutu)

Teams of EU civil protection experts are on the ground, helping the authorities with the constant flow of assistance. 

 “When we get offers for assistance, we make sure they get here as quickly as possible, and in a coordinated manner. We work closely with the Polish authorities. Then, they are loaded on trucks and trains headed for Ukraine and dispatched to the places where they are most needed,” says Jürgen Schreiber, who is leading the Civil Protection team in Poland. 

“Personally, I am impressed by the outpour of solidarity that we have been seeing here in Poland and countries all over the world,” Schreiber adds.

Through these logistics hubs, the EU continues coordinating the delivery of aid to Ukraine. Via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, European nations remain committed to supporting neighbouring countries.

With civil protection assistance, the EU continues to offer relief and assistance to innocent civilians fleeing from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Story by Michael Bruton, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 23/03/2022