Europe: Extreme Winter Weather - Information Bulletin n° 1

The situation

Severe winter weather and extreme temperatures as low as – 30 degrees Celsius in some areas are affecting much of Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, including Turkey and Greece. The worst of the cold weather began at the beginning of January in many countries but in Poland, the impact of freezing temperatures was felt as early as November 2016.

The media has reported at least 40 deaths. Homeless people, asylum seekers, refugees in camps and IDPs in Ukraine are among the most vulnerable.

Roads and water supply have been interrupted in some areas and there have been reports of power outages.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

National Societies across the region have been responding to the extreme winter weather. Below is an overview of National Societies’ response in some of the most affected countries.

Eastern Europe

Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures are affecting the region, with IDPs from Eastern Ukraine particularly vulnerable. The exact death toll in Ukraine is unconfirmed but media reports1 vary between 18 and 37 people this month. There have also been reports of landslides and avalanches in the country.

Belarus
- 107 heated tents across the country providing hot food, shelter and warm clothes for almost 10,000 people
- Caring for homeless people by providing food, blankets, first aid and medical care – particularly in rubbish dumps/landfill sites where homeless people are known to stay
- Supporting 120 stranded motorists in heavy snow
- More than 330 volunteers and staff have been responding and have reached 13,587 vulnerable people

Latvia
- 140 people stayed at the Red Cross’s night shelter in Riga – exceeding its usual capacity of 85

Romania
- Distributing food parcels in the most affected areas
- Distributing hot tea and soup across the country

Ukraine
- Nine emergency response teams on the ground provide warm clothing, hot food and tea and first aid for burns, frostbite and trauma - Eight heated tents have been set up across the country to provide shelter, hot food and clothing to more than 1,000 people - PSS is also being provided to people in the worst-affected areas