Since mid-March the Austrian Red Cross (AutRC) is deeply involved in the Ukraine (UA) Emergency Response operation, which is implemented by the RCRC Movement at different levels. In neighbouring countries (lead mainly IFRC) the Movement is supporting National Societies and inside UA, the Movement (lead mainly ICRC and Partner National Societies, such as the AutRC) is supporting Ukraine Red Cross Society (URCS)
The AutRC is working with many delegates from the WASH pool in different positions and with different responsibilities.
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At a very early stage Lidwina Dox was deployed to Budapest to support IFRC as Rapid Response WASH COORDINATOR (RRWASHCO) in their response in neighbouring countries, mainly Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. Barbara Rouchouze joined her team as WASH officer to support the Hungarian Red Cross. Mike Wolf has been sent to Moldova to support the ICRC delegation there with a focus towards Ukraine/Odessa.
Inside UA, the AutRC is a partner to the URCS since many years. The URCS has done and continues to do an enormous job to handle the humanitarian crisis; in areas, where fighting continues together with mainly ICRC and in relatively calm Oblasts with mainly National Society partners and increasingly the IFRC.
While the URCS Head Quarter as well as the ICRC have been dislocated from Kyiv to Vinnytsya, a team of three AutRC delegates has been sent bilaterally to Lviv to support URCS in general and specifically the local branch there.
This team consisted of Miriam Liska as Country Representative, Bernhard Helmberger (WASH volunteer working at the AutRC HQ), to support URCS in Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA), and Georg Ecker, Emergency WASH advisor at the AutRC HQ.
A second team with Andreas Hattinger (WASH volunteer from Upper Austria) and Imre Siska (WASH volunteer from Lower Austria) deployed to Uzhhorod to assist the local branch of Zakarpattia.
Since then the first rotations have been replaced and their work with both the URCS leadership and the local URCS branches continues, is constantly adapted to the enormously complex and very fluctuating situation and keeps increasingly growing. For the moment the two main sectors are CVA and WASH/Shelter assistance to Internally Displaced People (IDP).
The URCS operations in Lviv and Uzhhorod has seen many WASH delegates from the AutRC and partners until now. From the AutRC Katrin Melischnig (Styria), Wolfgang Stöckl (Upper Austria), Christine Widmann (Tyrol/Upper Austria), Gottfried Staufer (Upper Austria), Chris Bachtrog (HQ), Chris Jahn (HQ), Dominic Janisch (Lower Austria) and Roland Maier (Styria) have been deployed with different tasks and responsibilities.
We will get detailed descriptions of their missions in the next newsletters. As a primary teaser see here an interview (Forward the video to 1:42 for English) Georg Ecker has held with Julia, a URCS volunteer doing an enormous job on a daily basis with all her colleagues at Lviv train station, assisting arriving people with basic information, assistance and hygiene articles. Besides working side by side with URCS, the AutRC has close cooperation with both ICRC and IFRC, as well as partners at different levels. Delegates from Spanish, Swedish, German, British, Netherlands are and will continue to support the operation in western UA and possibly further east, as the situation allows.
From a WASH perspective: In Lviv URCS is, amongst other, running reception desks at the main train stations and also at the main border crossings. WASH/Shelter assistance to people stranded in IDP shelters and settlements has been started and continues together with AutRC, German RC and the ICRC. In Uzhhorod, assistance to the local URCS branch started with an initial joint and multi-sectoral assessment with IFRC, followed by distribution of hygiene items and food parcels.
In addition, laundry saloons are established in the rural areas of Transcarpathia (Tjatschiw and Khust), to enable IDPs to do their laundry and to provide a space for information exchange focusing on Protection, Gender and Inclusion.
Furthermore, in close cooperation with IFRC, the Finnish Red Cross and the regional health authorities, the AutRC is planning and implementing a health response. Three fixed Ukrainian Red Cross Service Centres and eleven Mobile Health Units will be established to support the state health system by providing basic healthcare comparable to the service family doctors are rendering.