Thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their country will be given food, warm clothing and a place to stay, thanks to a £50,000 grant to the British Red Cross from the Freemasons.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ Charity) and the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) have been monitoring the growing refugee crisis of over a million Ukrainian people who have been forced from their country and hundreds of thousands more who have been internally displaced from their homes.
As the situation in Ukraine deteriorates, trains leaving major cities like Kyiv for the border are packed. Huge queues are growing at border crossing points with reports of many families waiting days in freezing temperatures to reach neighbouring states. If the situation continues to worsen, the UN Refugee Agency has said it fears millions more people could end up seeking safety in other countries.
Already, Red Cross teams in neighbouring countries including Poland, Moldova, Slovakia and Romania, have been providing urgent support to these refugees. In Poland, where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have already sought safety, the Polish Red Cross has begun to establish temporary accommodation centres for new arrivals which can hold up to 400 people each. Similar responses have begun in Moldova, where in Chisinau, the Moldovan Red Cross has opened a shelter that can house up to 800 people, and in Slovakia, where the Slovak Red Cross has put up tents to house arrivals at the border crossing point in Ubla.
In addition to shelter, Red Cross teams are also providing food, hygiene items and warm clothing to those arriving. The Romanian Red Cross has deployed volunteers from branches along the border to distribute food, water, basic aid items and hygiene products to people in need. In Hungary, the Red Cross has 300 volunteers ready to help people crossing the border, many of whom have been preparing parcels containing bedding and hygiene items, and establishing information and first aid points.
Freemasons contributed to the grant through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Luke Tredget, Head of Emergencies, Surge and Technical Advisory from the Red Cross, said:
“We’re very grateful to the Freemasons for this generous grant which makes a major contribution to the Red Cross relief effort for Ukrainian refugees.
“Most of those fleeing the fighting are women and children who have been queueing on the border in sub-zero temperatures for as long as 60 hours. They’re in urgent need of support and the Red Cross has teams on the ground doing everything possible to help.”
Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, said:
“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the British Red Cross in their relief effort for the hundreds of thousands of refugees running from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These poor people are cold, hungry and utterly exhausted and I’m proud that Freemasons are able to assist in providing the support they need.”