EU launches campaign for private sector to donate to Ukraine

The European Commission is setting up distribution centres on Ukraine border for refugees needing care

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides met health ministers on Tuesday to discuss ways of providing health care for those fleeing Ukraine. Reuters
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The European Commission on Tuesday introduced a system for the private sector to donate material goods to Ukraine and EU member states neighbouring the country.

From vaccines and medication to tents, companies will be able to help cater for the needs of internally displaced and refugees under the new 'Stand Up For Ukraine' programme.

The EU says it will co-ordinate and cover the delivery costs of large scale in-kind donations to its logistical hubs in either Poland, Romania or Slovakia.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the new donation system was necessary to help “the brave people of Ukraine" who "need our help and they need it now."

"‘Stand Up For Ukraine' aims to raise funding for refugee relief but also to bring them the items they so desperately need in these difficult times — vaccines for children, medication, tents, for example. The international community is standing by Ukraine.”

An estimated 13 million people have either been internally displaced in Ukraine or are now refugees in other countries.

It is also crucial to focus on mental health and the psychological impact and consequences of the Russian war and we will provide assistance
Stella Kyriakides, European Health Commissioner

UN data showed a week ago that more than 3.5 million people have fled abroad from Russia's attacks on Ukraine, leaving eastern Europe scrambling to provide them with care.

Launched by Ms von der Leyen and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, in partnership with international advocacy organisation Global Citizen, the donation campaign aims to mobilise governments, institutions, artists, companies and people to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

EU commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic said the war in Ukraine had created "immense needs on the ground" and that the bloc was using its "full civil protection potential" to open up additional channels for the private sector to donate aid.

The announcement was made after a meeting of European health ministers on Tuesday to discuss the on-going medical and humanitarian situation in Ukraine and refugees.

Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the EU is setting up triage centres at the borders to assess medical needs of patients and identify available capacity across the bloc if needed.

Ms Kyriakides said the EU had already secured more than 10,000 hospital beds for patients from Ukraine and had already transferred paediatric and injured patients.

"It is also crucial to focus on mental health and the psychological impact and consequences of the Russian war and we will provide assistance," she said.

Plugging the gaps

Ukraine's low vaccination coverage for preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio and measles, was also addressed with the private sector called on to plug necessary gaps.

The EU health commissioner said the European Health Emergency preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) had secured 200,000 diphtheria and tetanus vaccine donations from drugmaker Sanofi for Ukraine and that another 70,000 vaccines would go to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Moldova via the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism.

"We remain vigilant that the Covid-19 pandemic is still with us. Vaccination is as important today as it was a few months ago …[and] remains our best tool in combating the pandemic and we must be prepared for the autumn and winter months," said Ms Kyriakides.

"Vaccinations and boosters must continue, we cannot waver. Ukraine and the arrival of millions of people add an additional layer of urgency to our work to ensure their protection with vaccination."

Ms Kyriakides said the EU had enough Covid-19 vaccinations for Ukrainian refugees.

"We have enough vaccines to be able to cover Ukrainian refugees but the most important thing is to welcome those fleeing Ukraine and providing them with the health care they deserve and need."

Updated: March 29, 2022, 5:28 PM