Europe's Cold Wave - EU Red Cross Emergency Responses
European Union Red Cross Societies in Action
Last update on 21 February 2012 with extracts from the IFRC European Zone Newsletter Issue 1, February 2012
. In Poland, the Polish Red Cross regional branch in Toruń, northern Poland, is running a reception centre for homeless people, in cooperation with the local authorities. They provide medical care, food and hygienic items. A number of Regional Branches also cooperate with local firms to collect food for homeless people.
. The Hungarian Red Cross is helping the needy in 50 settlements in 13 counties across Hungary, distributing tea, food and clothes and providing social street services and shelter from the severe cold. By 11 February, the National Society had reached over 8,200 people. The Hungarian Red Cross has also launched a new donation line where everyone wishing to contribute to their work can donate.
. A Latvian Red Cross night shelter in Riga has doubled the number of people it supports to 160 people and is now running a 24-hour service. Meals, clothing, hot showers and medical support services are provided by six staff members and 15 volunteers. The organization accepts every person who arrives or, if the shelter is overcrowded, ensures they have transport to another night shelter. Branch volunteers are also providing hot tea to the homeless and to outdoor workers, and blankets and clothing to a number of families whose houses have been burned down due to heating system accidents.
. In Romania, on 10 February, more than 310 villages were reported to be totally isolated because of the snow. Fourteen Romanian Red Cross branches have undertaken to respond immediately by meeting the basic needs of over 600 vulnerable people through the distribution of hot meals, warm clothing and blankets. Rescue teams are providing necessary help to those cut off. By 13 February, the Romanian Red Cross had delivered, in collaboration with government authorities, approximately 4.5 tons of food via helicopter to the counties Lalomita and Vrancea, while Buzau branch had distributed 1.6 tons of food and drinking water in Scutelnici village, Arcanu commune. On 11 February, the Romanian Red Cross has called for donations of cash and food items.
. In Austria, the Red Cross is helping in the country as well as in Eastern and South Eastern Europe. The Austrian Red Cross has increased its capacities of its accommodation centers for homeless and extended opening hours. The Austrian Red Cross is also supporting partner Red Cross Societies in Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Republic of Macedonia.
From the Austrian Red Cross (DE) "Rotkreuz-Nothilfe für die Opfer der Kältewelle aufgestockt"
. In the Netherlands, Red Cross volunteers have been assisting several municipalities providing beds, blankets, food and clothes for homeless people. Mobile soup kitchen have also reached out people living in the streets. On 10 February, around 1000 people had to stay overnight at Schiphol airport, due to the cancelation of flights. Upon the airport authorities's request, Red Cross volunteers gave a hand to stranded passengers.
From The Netherlands Red Cross (NL) "Wat te doen bij kou"
· In Belgium, the Red Cross is giving financial assistance for people who cannot pay their home heating bills, visiting the homeless at night on the street and bringing them hot drinks, warm clothes and food. The Red Cross soup kitchens are in strong demand, and more volunteers are needed to help run them. A call centre has also been opened with a free hotline.
From Belgium Red Cross (FR) "Plan Froid: La Croix-Rouge renforce son call center"From Belgium Red Cross (NL) "148 tijdelijke noodopvangplaatsen voor asielzoekers". British Red Cross emergency response volunteers braved the elements to support ambulance services, transport patients and help stranded travellers. They also made house-calls to check on the welfare of vulnerable older people.
From Belgium Red Cross (FR) "Plan Froid: La Croix-Rouge renforce son call center"
. In France, the French Red Cross has more than doubled their teams, extended their welcome centers opening hours during the day and opened new accommodation centers at night.
From French Red Cross (FR) "Plan Grand Froid"
From British Red Cross (EN) "Red Cross responds to severe weather disruption"
·Temperatures in Malta have not fallen below freezing but he Red Cross has distributed 150 blankets to (mainly African) migrants living in temporary accommodation centres.
. The Italian Red Cross continues to deliver its services from north to south to face up against the cold snap of the last weeks, while the National Operations Room of the National Society keeps monitoring all the regions of the country, in close contact with regional operations room on the territory. In Irpinia, southern Italy, some 80 volunteers are currently deployed in support to iso- lated families; in Emilia Romagna, the worst hit region, another 11 isolated households have been reached; while in the Marche and Abruzzo, local branches are distributing medicines and basic necessities to remote villages. In Rome, the National Society’s headquarters is currently accommodating 52 clochard.
From Italian Red Cross (IT) "Maltempo, le attività della Croce Rossa sul territorio nazionale"
. In Bulgaria, heavy snowfalls have caused traffic chaos and blocked several main roads in the country. In the southern regions, snow and rains have also led to the overflow of major rivers, while the collapse of a dam near the village of Bisser forced people to evacuate by boat. The towns of Svilengrad and Harmanli were also hit by the floods, with some 40,000 people affected. Two teams of the Bulgarian Red Cross operate in the flooded areas, distributing mineral water, hot drinks, snacks, non-food to the affected people. A BRC search and rescue team is taking part in the operation along with the Fire Brigade and Civil Protection units.
From Bulgarian Red Cross (EN) "BRC is raising funds to assist the affected by the floods in the municipality of Harmanli"