By Laia Mataix Gomez
Bogota, Mar 10 (EFE).- The war in Ukraine could threaten the lives of millions of people in need of humanitarian aid worldwide, Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), warned on Thursday.
“If we provide more help in a crisis, there will be fewer resources left for other crises,” said Rocca, who is in the Colombia capital Bogota for an IFRC Inter-American conference.
“Those who are going to face the consequences are, as always, those who are the least prepared to handle the challenges,” he added.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is currently impacting some 18 million people, one-third of the country’s 44 million population. Over 2 million of them have been forced to flee the country.
Rocca, an Italian lawyer and the president of the IFRC since 2017, stressed the need to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians and transport goods to war-ravaged Ukraine, saying political leaders need to find solutions to reverse the situation.
Question: What impact will the conflict in Ukraine have on other humanitarian crises?
Answer: When it comes to resources, these do not last forever, so if we provide more help in a crisis, there will be fewer resources left for other crises, and those who are going to face the consequences are, as always, those who are the least prepared to handle the challenges.
The budget of donors and families who normally support the Red Cross or other humanitarian organizations is not unlimited, so, of course, someone will pay the price for this, unless political leaders find solutions.
Q: Were you prepared for a crisis of this magnitude?
A: We always talk about being prepared, but when something like what is happening in Ukraine takes place, no one is really prepared. No one, for example, was prepared for Covid-19 or the great catastrophes that the world is experiencing.
In countries neighboring Ukraine — Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania —, volunteers work 24 hours a day to help refugees. And although as an organization we do not have as much experience in that part of Europe, they are doing it out of the humanity required in our work.
The Russian Red Cross is also working on the border with the more than 200,000 displaced people from Ukraine and they have already set up a reception center. The same thing is happening in all the national Red Cross societies neighboring Ukraine.
Also, there is a big focus on the warehouses, which we already have in Romania and are thinking of setting up in Poland, to support logistics and facilitate the entry of goods into Ukraine, something very important in a conflict.
Q: What are your main action plans?
A: Support people in difficult situations: those fleeing bombing, those living in shelters, everyone. That is why humanitarian corridors are necessary.
When we talk about humanitarian corridors, of course, the first thing that comes to mind is to evacuate those who want to leave the country, but they have another objective: to bring goods and food.
Q: How many affected has the war affected so far?
A: We are talking 18 million people, one-third of Ukraine’s population – one-third of the Ukrainian population – and not all of them are going to escape the country, so we must provide necessities to those staying.
That is why we request the humanitarian corridors from both sides, to allow humanitarian aid to enter and to attend to the civilian victims of the conflict.