was only five years ago that the “iron curtain”
fell. The economic, social and political structures in Russian
society began to change by fits and starts and the long journey
from a centrally led economy to a market one began. This has
been and still is an extremely painful process. New social
phenomena such as homelessness, unemployment and poverty among
the elderly and large families and the problem of displaced
people, migrants and refugees, have become unfortunate facts
of life in the Russian Federation.
With its enormous potential of 92 regional and 3,500 local
committees, the Russian Red Cross is currently the biggest
humanitarian organisation in Russia, offering as much assistance
as possible to all vulnerable groups within Russian society.
However, due to a shortage of funding and qualified staff,
the Russian Red Cross is not able to meet the overwhelming
demands of a society in the midst of total transition.
The Netherlands Red Cross feels it is only natural that it
should support the Russian Red Cross in its efforts. Nationally,
as well as internationally, the Netherlands Red Cross is well
prepared for the alleviation of suffering and provision of
care for the most vulnerable, with goods, money and professionally
For the past three years, the Netherlands Red Cross and the
Russian Red Cross have carried out activities together for
approximately 6.5 million people in 53 regions of the Russian
Federation. One should bear in mind that each region on its
own is much bigger than the entire country of the Netherlands!
The Netherlands Red Cross has provided humanitarian aid worth
US$12 million. This aid consists mainly of medicines, medical
supplies and food on the one hand, and structural projects
for the homeless, the elderly, refugees, migrants and people
with little or no income on the other.
An example of an inspiring project is the shelter for homeless
children which the two National Societies have set up together
– a success which will lead to a second shelter in the
The close cooperation between the Netherlands Red Cross and
the Russian Red Cross contributes in some small way to the
slow but sure improvement in the circumstances of those who
are most vulnerable in the Russian Federation today. For our
organisation this is but a noble aim, but for those in need
of help this may mean the difference between life and death.