Emotional assistance is essential when working with migrants

  • September 15, 2015
September 15, 2015
By Andreea Anca, IFRC

Working with and for vulnerable migrants is a long-standing tradition rooted in the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, firmly advocating for a humanitarian approach to migration. In its Resolution n°3 of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent the Movement calls for respecting the dignity and the social inclusion of migrants in their host communities and for ensuring that people on the move have unhindered access to the right to protection, health care and access to information at any phase of their difficult journey. Psychosocial support is an integral part Red Cross Red Crescent assistance thorough out.

Europe Region

In Europe, The International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) provides support to National Societies who conduct operations along the migratory trails responding to the immediate needs of the migrants in the countries of transit and destination, and also to their long-term aspirations of  being included in the communities that would ultimately host them.

One major component of the Red Cross and Red Crescent response is the psychosocial support programme (PSS), which aims at improving the psychological condition of the migrants who endure harsh conditions and treatment along the way. In their flight from conflicts, persecution or extreme poverty back home people experience further psychosocial trauma from displacement and often abuse from the human smugglers they entrust their lives to in their long and often treacherous journeys. Many walk for days through fields and forests before they reach their final destination with little food or water, and exposed to potential accidents on the rail tracks in their path.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in the respective countries of transit and destination provide further emotional assistance to the migrants and their children, to help them cope with the quick changes of their environment and to facilitate the process of integration. Currently, the Implementation Support Group of the Florence Call for Action signed by all participant National Societies across the region at the 9th European Regional Conference, is looking at the most effective ways to support these in carrying through all activities that relate to the commitments stemming from the Florence document, which focuses strongly on Migration.

Population movement to Turkey and Russia

According to the latest UNHCR Global Trends Report, the overall number of displaced people in Europe was 6.7 million at the end of 2014, compared to 4.4 million at the end of 2013; the largest proportion of these are Syrians in Turkey and Ukrainians in the Russian Federation. An estimated 1.3 million people are displaced within Ukraine because of the tense situation in the eastern part of the country. Another 800,000 had fled to other countries in the first half of this year, with Russia continuing to experience the biggest wave of population movement in the region. Similarly, the neighbouring Belarus has seen an increasing number of people fleeing the areas of conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Migrants at sea

The number of people from countries across Africa and Middle East landing mostly in Italy and Greece via the Mediterranean Sea is estimated at approaching a quarter of a million so far this year, already exceeding the total numbers of migrants of 219,000 who arrived during the whole of 2014 (source: IOM).

There is an increase in the number of migrants taking the ‘Western Balkan’ route as they make their way to countries further north in the European Union via Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary.

According to an IOM report the latest official Greek government figures are reporting 134,988 migrant arrivals from Turkey this year, while Hungary has already registered 110,000 asylum-seekers by 15 August, with numbers expected to rise.


IFRC support to Population Movement operations in Europe Region

Russia: Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF, 2014) 375,212 Swiss francs


Macedonia: Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) of 200,098 Swiss francs


Greece: Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) of 296,549 Swiss francs


Belarus: Emergency Appeal of 742,931 Swiss francs


Italy: Emergency Appeal of 2,710,576 Swiss francs


Ukraine: Emergency Appeal Revision Nr. 2 of 19,992,343 Swiss francs (increased from CHF 2,294,724) http://adore.ifrc.org/Download.aspx?FileId=86465

Turkey: International Appeal Revision Nr. 4 of 44,601,503 Swiss francs (increased from CHF 41.1 million)


Hungary: Disaster Response Emergency Fund of 322,365 Swiss francs


Serbia:  Disaster Response Emergency Fund of 318,035 Swiss francs