Johanniter distributes relief goods in Ukraine and supports refugees

Berlin, Germany, 27th February

Our German member provides immediate emergency relief to Ukraine to help those affected and prepares to care for refugees as the humanitarian needs are expected to soar.

„We at Johanniter are shocked by the escalating violence in Ukraine. We fear devastating humanitarian consequences for Ukraine and neighbouring countries, “ said Jörg Lüssem, Member of the Federal Board of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe Germany on Friday 25th February. „Johanniter is currently assessing ways to provide immediate emergency relief in the country. At the same time, we are ready to take in and care for refugees in Germany if needed.”

Over the past days, Johanniter in Berlin has been intensively gathering information on the situation in Ukraine, coordinated by the Emergency Response Desk. So far, precise information on humanitarian needs is still scarce, with refugee movements expected to rise in the coming days.

Many non-governmental organisations are already active in Ukraine and neighbouring countries with their own staff and/or partners. Our German member is in close exchange with other humanitarian organisations in various networks, including Johannita in Hungary, and exploring options for cooperation inside Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries.

Emergency relief goods

The distribution of relief goods in Ukraine started on 27th February. Together with the German-Ukrainian Forum, Johanniter distributed food and hygiene items to 2,600 families in Poltava, a city 350 kilometres southeast of Kiev in central Ukraine. The city is one of the targets of the Russian military. “Since the beginning of the war, the city has been encircled by the military,” reported Jörg Drescher, Head of the Office of the German-Ukrainian Forum in Kiev. “The city’s approximately 300,000 inhabitants live in constant fear. The supermarkets are empty. Therefore, the people are in urgent need of support. Many refugees from the Donbass have already arrived in Poltava. They are also being supplied with the aid packages,” Drescher continued.

The aid packages came from private donations from Germany and were already in Poltava before the war began as part of Johanniter’s annual Christmas donation campaign (Weihnachtstrucker). “We are glad that the packages were already in the city and that we can now distribute them to the people. In the coming days, we will try to distribute more relief supplies. But so far, it is still unclear whether and how we will get the relief goods into the country,” reported Drescher.

Help for Ukrainian refugees

Our German member is also establishing contact with partners in the neighbouring countries through the Johanniter network, especially in Poland, Hungary and Romania, in order to support the provision of assistance to refugees.

More than a hundred thousand Ukrainians, mostly women and children, are fleeing across the borders into neighbouring countries. In the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Poland, thousands of refugees arrive daily. Johanniter partner organisations working in these countries are preparing to support the arrivals. “We have already received the first requests for help from Hungary, which we are now examining,” said Magdalena Kilwing, Head of Emergency Relief at Johanniter International Assistance.
There is also a great willingness to help on the part of full-time and voluntary Johanniter staff throughout Germany. “Together with the associations, we are currently clarifying which emergency aid measures we can use to best support the reception, care and medical treatment of the refugees in the neighbouring countries of Ukraine. The first measures are already being coordinated,” said Anne Ernst, Head of Crisis Management and Emergency Relief.

The first refugee families also arrived in Germany over the weekend. “We at Johanniter are in close coordination with the responsible authorities and are ready to support with all available means,” Ernst continued.

If you are active in response to the Ukraine crisis, sending information to Johanniter is appreciated. You can reach the Emergency Response Desk at