As of today, the EU has successfully coordinated 1,000 medical evacuations of Ukrainian patients via its Civil Protection Mechanism to provide them with specialised healthcare in hospitals across Europe.
As the number of wounded people in Ukraine increases day by day, local hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand. At the same time, Poland, Moldova and Slovakia have requested support for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations from their respective countries given the large inflow of people. To relieve pressure on local hospitals, since 11 March, the EU has been coordinating patient transfers to other European countries who have available hospital capacity.
The patients have been transferred to 18 countries: Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Lithuania, Finland, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Recent operations include the transfer of 2 patients to Czech Republic on 3 August and 15 patients evacuated to Germany, 4 patients to the Netherlands and 2 patients to Norway on 4 August 2022.
The MEDEVAC transfer scheme supports the transfer of patients that fulfil the eligibility criteria, be they chronically ill or wounded by the war. The mechanism enables the Commission to report to the Ukrainian authorities where in the EU/EEA countries the patients have been transferred. For a secure transfer of patient data, the patients’ health records are shared using the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS).
Daniel Janetschek, of White Cross Union association of rescue volunteers and officers for good, states: “The European Civil Protection has in my opinion the best rescue mechanism in the world. However, a lot of work still need to be done because there is an higher need to transport ill and wounded patients from Ukraine to Europe. So far 1171 have been evacuated according to the MEDEVAC mechanism, mostly by heliambulances, although the real number of patients in need is most probably about 40 times bigger. We need to consider the wounded soldiers, the persons with chronical diseases, cancer patients, and any others in need of special care (who cannot get it properly in Ukraine because damaged structures and general fear of shelling around hospitals), not rarely it deals with kids and seniors. We would love to see that kids with health problems or hurt from the war are transported safe outside Ukraine and handled safe. There are some old problems I want to underline today, as follow:
– an old weakness in communication and coordination of rescue specialists and volunteers on field, today like I experienced 30 years ago;
– the European civil protection is great but has still a very much limited number of resources; in case of a global war, we would not be ready at all, neither morally, nor materially;
– there are more than 1 million potential volunteers in Europe, who are active today or were active in the past, with plenty of super equipped ambulances and medical doctors, BUT these are, as always, not involved in rescue process outside their own “small borders”, or they are just cut of out, because lack in communication, coordination, deecentralization;
– loss in motivation and inspiration in several rescue associations because lack of attention, recognition and respect from side of municipalities and local governments;
– inability to present international initiatives, maybe also because lack in foreign language skills;
– too less funding and laziness in formation and education of rescue operators and volunteers since always, I could write a book about this;
I would propose these solutions:
– we need to involve rescue operators and hospitals from all Europe with campaigns and cold calls;
– we need participation and coordination of more humanitarian rescue volunteers eventually not expecting full central management of the European Civil Protection but better decentralization of the rescue efforts;
– local units could carry out a great work, so they could receive local funding without need of sending all donations to one single point, because if the centre is overloaded, this cannot manage the funding on time;
– rebuild trust in the rescue sector and without always this dummy paranoia of corruption, because also smaller legal entities with years of experience in rescue (example the White Cross around the Europe have achieved more than 100 years of rescue) and great ambulances may participate, and really should!
– more missions to Ukraine and more ambulances involved for transporting more people in need, and this would be also another good training for the emergency management sector in Europe;
– transport can be also carried out by standard ambulances on wheels, no need of using only the limited number of heliambulances, although we would like to see more heliambulances as well.
– give more power to voluntary sector and non-profit NGO because these are carriers of values and social participation for doing good things, reducing the load of the central institutions and bringing an healthy internal competition in the rescue sector;
I fell I am suffering for those families and children, who got hurt and still need to fear bombing and receive a lower medical performance. In White Cross we are working for an higher social participation of volunteers and boosting more respect for rescue entities” (Press: Janetschek, from White Cross Union medical meeting Ventspils 6.8.2022)
500 patients from Ukraine in need of continued treatment or urgent medical assistance have been transferred to European hospitals from Ukraine, Moldova and bordering countries.
The main destination countries have been so far Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania and Sweden.
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said: “More than 500 hundreds Ukrainian patients in need of treatment and care have been successfully transferred to hospitals within the EU, thanks to the EU solidarity mechanisms and the generosity of 13 Member States and EEA partners. This is true EU solidarity in action. The EU has mobilised an assistance effort of unprecedented scale and speed to support and protect Ukraine and its people. As I have assured the Ukrainian health Minister in our regular calls, Ukraine can continue counting on the EU’s unabated support.”
Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “As hospitals in Ukraine and neighbouring countries are increasingly under pressure, we need to organise specialised treatment for both chronically ill patients and people wounded in the war. Today, as we hit the milestone of 500 Ukrainian patients transferred to hospitals across Europe, I want to thank all the countries who have made beds available to make sure these patients receive the care they so urgently need. Yet again, the EU showcases its support to the most vulnerable. Together, we are saving lives.”
The transfer scheme supports the transfer of patients that fulfil the eligibility criteria, be they civilians or military personnel.
13.05.2022. Today the Commission announces €1.5 million for a dedicated project to support the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in assisting women and girls in Ukraine by providing sexual and reproductive health services. Funding will target essential supplies and equipment, including emergency kits for pregnant women.
In addition, 2 mobile healthcare units for emergency obstetric and newborn care, will be established. The funding is part of the EU’s overall €243 million in humanitarian aid in response to the war in Ukraine which comes on top of in-kind assistance to the country via the Civil Protection.
The announcement comes as Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič and Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, are meeting with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten to discuss how to support the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “History has shown time and time again that women bear the brunt of wars and conflicts, and the war in Ukraine is no different. With conflict-related sexual violence on the rise, we must recognise the impact this ruthless war has on the most vulnerable populations. Together with the UN we will work hand in hand to protect women and girls in Ukraine. The EU has just signed a contract with the United Nations Population Fund to provide immediate humanitarian response for women and girls in Ukraine, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, with access to sexual and reproductive health response services. This also includes lifesaving medical care. Also, I want to remind Russia that using rape as a weapon of war is a violation of international humanitarian law in its gravest form, and will not go unpunished.”
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “The mounting and credible allegations of rape and sexual violence used during the Russian invasion of Ukraine are extremely alarming. We are also very worried about the increasing risks of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Such horrendous crimes can have devastating effects on the physical and mental health of the victims. This is why we are working to ensure that access to medical care for those fleeing Ukraine in the EU also includes mental health, adapted to the needs of women who have experienced trauma and gender-based violence. Through the EU’s solidarity system for medical transfers we can transfer victims of conflict related sexual violence and provide them with the care they need. Our priority is to provide care for the victims, and to ensure that the perpetrators of these horrendous war crimes are brought to justice.”
The vast majority of displaced persons are being women and children.
25.4.2022. As the war continues and people arrive from Ukraine, health systems in neighbouring countries face significant pressure. Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, and Ukraine have requested assistance from the EU for evacuating patients in need of medical attention.
In response, the EU has now coordinated the evacuation of nearly 200 people via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to 11 European countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain and Portugal).
This is supported by the first rescEU medical evacuation plane, which is helping transfer Ukrainian patients. The aircraft is financed by the EU and hosted by Norway, a participating state of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
19.4.2022. Since the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February, the humanitarian needs in Ukraine have risen to unprecedented levels. This is the most important emergency in the European continent since the second world´s war.
The ongoing war endangers the lives of civilians and cause severe damages to housing, water and electricity supply, heating, but also public infrastructure such as schools and health facilities. Millions people have no access to basic needs.
What are the needs?
The war in Ukraine has already forced more than 11.7 million people to leave their homes, of which over 5.2 million people fled to neighbouring countries like the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.
The majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children. This is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world.
It is estimated that over 7.7 million people are internally displaced. Meanwhile, close to 13 million people are stranded in affected areas, either unwilling or unable to leave due to military action.
The war in Ukraine has spiralled into a fully-fledged humanitarian catastrophe.
Needs inside the country
The worst situation is currently seen in eastern Ukraine, especially in besieged Mariupol, and along the former line of contact in Donbas. Millions of people do not have access to basic services, including water, electricity and heating, while food supplies are running low. They also need sleeping equipment and clothing. The provision of shelter is also extremely urgent.
The war has also provoked significant protection challenges as civilians are exposed to shelling, armed violence, mines, family separation, looting or eviction, and human trafficking.
The safety risks for women and girls is extremely worrying, as well as the situation of the most vulnerable groups (children, older persons, persons with disabilities, and LGBTIQ+ people).
Humanitarian access and windows of silence are essential to deliver relief items to those in need and to enable safe evacuation of civilians from areas under siege.
The international community is extremely concerned about the violations of international humanitarian law and allegations of war crimes. The EU is committed to support Ukraine in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
How the civil protection in Europe is helping?
ECHO officials inspecting supplies delivered from Greece to Moldova
All 27 EU countries, plus Norway and Turkey, have offered in-kind assistance ranging from medical supplies and shelter items to vehicles and energy equipment. The items are being delivered both directly to Ukraine and through logistical hubs established in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. As of 26 April, over 22,500 tonnes have been delivered via the logistical hubs.
Furthermore, a substantial contribution from the rescEU medical stockpiles, with a total financial value of over €10 million, has been sent to Ukraine.
This includes specialised medical equipment, like ultrasound diagnostic devices, oxygen concentrators, patient monitors, infusion pumps and ventilators, but also protective material, like masks and gowns.
Also, the EU is coordinating medical evacuations of chronically ill patients, transferring them to hospital across Europe to receive specialised care. These evacuation operations are supported by the new rescEU medical evacuation plane, financed by the EU and hosted by Norway.
Teams of civil protection experts are operating on the ground in Poland and Slovakia. They assist the authorities to coordinate the incoming assistance.
Europe is also supporting Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Czechia, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) via the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Already 18 Member States and Norway have supplied resources including shelter equipment, power generators and hygiene kits to Moldova alone.
EU humanitarian aid in Ukraine
Since 28 February, the European Commission has allocated €143 million for humanitarian aid programmes to help civilians affected by the war in Ukraine. This includes respectively €130 million for Ukraine and €13 million for Moldova. This funding is part of the €1 billion support package pledged by the Commission during the event “Stand up for Ukraine” on 9 April.
EU humanitarian partners have swiftly re-established presence all over the country and mobilised assistance on the ground. Despite security and access constraints, humanitarian assistance flows inside the country and reaches those in need.
The new funding is helping people inside Ukraine and those who have fled to Moldova by providing them with (i) food, (ii) water, (iii) essential household items, (iv) health care, (v) psychosocial support, (vi) emergency shelter, (vii) protection, and (viii) cash assistance to help to cover their basic needs.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February, EU countries alone have mobilised nearly €950 million in humanitarian assistance. The EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations have been operating in Ukraine since February 2014. Since then, the EU and Member States have provided over €2.7 billion in assistance, of which around €1.4 billion in humanitarian aid.
EU humanitarian offices in Ukraine and Moldova play a key role in facilitating humanitarian coordination and information sharing among various organisations, including donors, authorities and humanitarian partners.
EU-funded humanitarian assistance is provided in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. It is delivered through the UN humanitarian agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Caritas, White Cross, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.