Conflict in Ukraine - Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the Red Cross response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
False information about components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have been circulating at different times during this emergency. This misinformation could prevent essential assistance from getting to people in need and puts humanitarian lives at risk, including Red Cross volunteers and staff on the ground. This page addresses frequently asked questions about the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s work during the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. 

Last updated: August 22, 2022
What is the difference between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Societies such as the Ukrainian Red Cross Society?

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the largest humanitarian network in the world. It is made up of three independent but complimentary components: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, including the Canadian Red Cross.

We are one Red Cross. Each component of the Movement brings its own strengths that are complimentary to one another and allow us to work together to alleviate the suffering of people in the most vulnerable situations throughout the world. We are all guided by our seven Red Cross Red Crescent Fundamental Principles. This has been no exception in the recent response to the crisis in Ukraine.
Why is the Red Cross referring to the situation in Ukraine as a conflict and not a war?

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has a mandate under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and as such, must be precise when speaking about armed conflict. “Armed conflict” is the technical, legal term that is used in the Geneva Conventions, which is why the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement uses this terminology.
Why did ICRC’s president meet with Russian officials?

As a neutral, impartial humanitarian actor, ICRC is mandated to speak with all parties to the conflict in order to advocate respect for International Humanitarian Law, or the law of armed conflict, to protect all civilian life and to ensure humanitarian aid is able to reach those most in need.

The Red Cross needs to speak to people who make and influence decisions impacting the victims of armed conflict, and our ability to reach them.
Red Cross conducts these humanitarian diplomacy and bilateral dialogue efforts all over the world, in relation to every conflict where we are trying to assist and protect civilians.
Is the Red Cross supporting people on both sides of the front line?

Yes. As a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement will continue to provide support to affected populations regardless of their location. 

Will Canadian donations to the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal be used in Russia?

Donations from Canada are helping the Red Cross provide on-the-ground support to people in Ukraine and the following surrounding countries: Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia. The Canadian Red Cross has not been asked to help support Red Cross operations in Russia through the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal at this time.
Is Red Cross helping to organize forced evacuation?

No. We do not ever help organize or carry out forced evacuations or deportation. This is true of our work in Ukraine and everywhere we work worldwide. We would not support any operation that would go against people’s will and our principles.

Red Cross teams have been instrumental in supporting the Ukrainian authorities with the voluntary safe passage of people from areas being attacked to safer locations. 
Why would ICRC open an office in Rostov in Russia?

The ICRC has been strengthening their response by deploying additional teams to Ukraine, as well as to neighboring countries. As part of this regional scale-up, they are also discussing opening an office in Rostov in southern Russia, where ICRC currently doesn’t have a base to provide humanitarian aid.

Allegations that ICRC is trying to open an office in Russia to help filter evacuated Ukrainians are inaccurate and could cause significant harm to the ICRC and their staff.

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