How Canadians can help in a humanitarian crisis: Ukraine and surrounding countries

By: Jennifer Barnable, senior digital writer
 
Anywhere, at any given time, humanitarian crises can emerge.
 
Whether here at home or around the world, the Canadian Red Cross is ready to offer support.  As a member of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, we are committed to bringing relief to people and communities in need before, during and after a crisis or emergency. 
 

Support humanitarian aid efforts in Ukraine and surrounding countries


Boxes of supplies being passed between Red Cross team members outside a white tent.Currently, after almost eight years of conflict, people in Ukraine face ongoing conflict, violence and uncertainty. The Red Cross is swiftly responding to mounting humanitarian aid needs, in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries where people are seeking safety.
 
By launching our Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal, we are working to provide immediate and ongoing relief efforts in the country, long-term recovery, resiliency, and other critical humanitarian activities that arise in Ukraine and surrounding countries, including those who are displaced.
 

Best ways Canadians can help in a humanitarian crisis


Thanks to the generosity of people living in Canada, the Red Cross can offer humanitarian assistance to people in Ukraine and surrounding countries during this conflict. We do this in coordination with our partners who are on the ground, including the Ukrainian Red Cross Society the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross, and other Red Cross Red Crescent Societies. 
 
Here are five of the most effective ways Canadians can offer help right now:

1. Make a financial donation

The easiest way to support the work of the Canadian Red Cross is to donate online, giving us a call at 1-800-418-1111 or by texting UKRAINE to 20222 to donate $10. Making a financial donation is always the best way to support our humanitarian efforts on the ground.
 
Donating items, offering in-kind services or items, or suggesting you join ongoing aid efforts in person – while well intentioned – are not the most effective ways to offer help. We do not accept donations of food, clothing or toys because of the tremendous transportation costs involved in shipping these items. The Red Cross also has trained personnel, as well as standardized equipment and aid materials, available.

Your financial donation directly impacts our ability to take action. Learn more about how you can donate to make a difference.
 
2. Organize a fundraiser

When you take action, so can we. We appreciate the initiative of caring Canadians who seek to hold fundraisers to assist us in our work. If your community group, school or organization wants to organize a fundraiser, our Red Cross fundraising specialists can help support your vision. Whether it’s through charity live streaming, an online gaming event, a poker tournament, dinner party or gala, your fundraising activity can successfully help those in need.

To create a community fundraiser, simply fill out our easy online form to organize a third-party fundraiser for the Canadian Red Cross. For those in the online live streaming and gaming worlds, this is an excellent way to raise money and awareness for those in need. We are also offering Tiltify to support fundraising for the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal – here’s how to launch an online fundraising campaign on Tiltify within minutes.

3. Don’t spread misinformation

Fake news is nothing new, but in this fast-moving online world, misinformation and confusion run rampant on social media. Viral videos, memes and graphics often contain misleading information and distorted truths that cause confusion and harmful biases.Orange background with dice rolled to word FAKE with K and E rolling to C and T During a humanitarian crisis, this can be very harmful and impede the aid that is so desperately needed by those affected.

Before you hit the share button or re-post, pause – consider the source, the content, the author, the date, the links and the text beyond the catchy headline, because very often we may find ourselves rushing and potentially sharing something that is untrue and possibly harmful. Check facts using trusted websites like Snopes, which has been exposing false viral claims for almost 25 years.

By taking a moment to be more mindful about what we’re sharing online, we can help others understand factual information and share a more accurate picture of what is happening in the world around us. This can help those in crisis receive humanitarian support faster, without misinformation making things murky or interfering with the information that could motivate more people to take positive action.  

Finally, rely on neutral, independent sources of international news and updates, including official Red Cross content shared on our website and social media channels.

4. Learn about International Humanitarian Law

Back view of a man wearing a red vest with Red Crescent beside a man with a white ICRC vest.International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is a set of wartime rules that protect people who are not (or are no longer) participating in hostilities, including the civilian population, combatants who are no longer fighting because they are wounded, humanitarian workers, medical personnel, and prisoners of war. IHL also restricts the means and methods of war. Its purpose is to limit and prevent human suffering in times of armed conflict.

Parties to the conflict in Ukraine must adhere to IHL, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the First Additional Protocol of 1977.  They must refrain from attacks directed directly at civilians and essential civilian infrastructure. Attacks carried out with new technologies and cyber means must also respect IHL.
 
As part of our mandate to protect the dignity and lives of people affected by conflict, one of the Canadian Red Cross’ core responsibilities is the dissemination of IHL to the armed forces, lawmakers, youth and the general public. The more we know about IHL and its humanitarian impacts in peacetime, the more likely IHL will be respected during times of conflict. Learn more about International Humanitarian Law.

5. Take care of your mental health

Crisis events can cause distressing feelings and emotions. Shock, fear, anger, helplessness, and grief are just some of the many emotions you may cycle through, particularly if  you or someone you care about has been impacted.  

A man holding his hand up to his head sitting on a couch in darkened room. Photo credit: Nik Shuliahin/UnsplashIt’s important to recognize that trauma can impact those affected by a humanitarian crisis like the conflict in Ukraine. It is normal, and to be expected, that people may have physical, emotional and behavioural reactions to abnormal events and continuous change.

Remember that stress, and feelings of confusion, disappointment and worry are expected during a crisis. Coping with a long, isolating pandemic and dealing with the very real impacts of a humanitarian crisis can create a perfect storm that can impact our mental health.  The Red Cross provides resources to help you and your loved ones manage your physical and mental well-being while coping during times like this.  

Take care of yourself and others, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. If you notice yourself becoming increasingly distressed, take control of the news and information you consume. Log off social media and news sites if it gets to be too much for you. It’s okay to take a break during heavy times. You may also want to consider taking a psychological first aid course to help yourself or others.

During a humanitarian crisis, the stress reactions may last several weeks. If your reactions persist and make it impossible to function normally over a long period of time, seek help. Mental health support may be accessible through your doctor, a community health centre, or walk-in counselling program. You may also learn about available Red Cross Psychological First Aid courses that can be completed online.

Two Red Cross members viewing a room set up with cots for those fleeing UkraineThe conflict in Ukraine is having widespread and devastating humanitarian impacts. People in vulnerable situations are among the hardest hit.

The Red Cross continues to work around the clock to respond to humanitarian needs in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

The priority is to assist people in need. During times of humanitarian crisis, through the Red Cross, the support of people like you can be felt around the world. 
 
People living in Canada wishing to make a financial donation to the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal can do so online at www.redcross.ca, by calling 1-800-418-1111, or by texting UKRAINE to 20222 to donate $10.

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