Danish Red Cross supports Belarus Red Cross in delivering assistance to the homeless and other vulnerable people in the cold daysRed Cross staff and volunteers across Europe have been responding to extreme winter conditions. An onset of extremely cold winter often catches many Belarusians completely unprepared, especially homeless, drivers, rural and urban dwellers who need to travel long distances by public transport or by foot. In Belarus some 900 people were affected by frostbites and hypothermia. Several deaths from the cold were reported.
As soon as the harsh winter weather started, Belarus Red Cross had immediately mobilised its trained volunteers at the regional branches' level. Belarus Red Cross sees its role in assisting the people affected by severe frosts, with a strong focus on the homeless, vulnerable people in rural areas, stranded drivers, and people caught up by the extreme weather in public places. With Danish Red Cross support, our colleagues in Belarus have set up heated tents to provide hot meals, shelter and warm clothes for nearly 10,000 people. Hot food and drinks, fuel and blankets are provided by the Red Cross teams for thousands of people affected by extreme weather. Furthermore, lonely elderly people in rural areas have been reached by Red Cross mobile teams providing wood and compressed fuel for heating their homes, emergency lighting, hot meals and tea, and psychosocial support. In addition, Belarus Red Cross assisted the most vulnerable people with second-hand clothing and blankets, collected locally and supplied by Danish Red Cross to Brest and Vitebsk regions in September 2017. Where possible, agreements have been concluded with public canteens or cafes for the supply of hot meals thus bringing some dignity back to the homeless and other vulnerable people.
“Thanks to the Red Cross volunteers for trying to feed us, the homeless,” says Vladimir. “Those without home often have no food and are grateful for any help. We are not sitting idle, but collect waste paper or scrap metal but still can not always afford a piece of bread”. Not only homeless come to the canteen for a meal with a Red Cross coupon. Margarita Ivanova is carefully packing a salad and a bun into a container to carry away and feels uncomfortable to mention her disability. “You have fish soup here, and meat cutlets garnished with stewed cabbage. I could not eat it all and take it with me. Everything is so tasty as if at home. Red Cross always supports with clothing, food and a kind word.” She hurries home where her handicapped son who needs daily care is waiting for her in a wheelchair.
Overall, some 7,000 people were assisted, including over 4,000 people assisted through heating points, more than 1,200 homeless provided with hot meals and clothing, 210 drivers assisted with hot drinks, 29 stranded drivers assisted in evacuation of their vehicles, and first aid provided to 8 people.
Belarus: Cold Wave Preparedness with HumFlex funding (EUR 40,000)