Budapest/Geneva, 27 February 2018 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on people to check on neighbours, relatives and friends who could be at risk as a deep freeze sweeps Europe.

IFRC Regional Director for Europe, Simon Missiri, said: “We are calling on the public to help us protect people who could be in danger– that could be an elderly neighbour, a young family, someone you know who’s ill.

“It’s crucial communities come together and work closely to stay safe – just knocking on someone’s door to check they have everything they need can make a huge difference. It could even be the difference between life and death”

Red Cross emergency teams are running shelters, providing hot food, blankets and medical treatment for thousands of people across Europe.

Volunteers from Belarus to Britain are on the ground after snow carpeted swathes of the continent and temperatures plummeted to almost -30 degrees Celsius in some places.

The IFRC has also issued winter weather advice to help people stay safe. “There are simple steps we can all take like tuning in to local news for updates, avoiding long journeys and keeping emergency supplies close to hand,” said Missiri.

The Red Cross in Belgium is staffing several shelters for hundreds of homeless people while in southern Belarus, heated tents have been set up to protect stranded motorists and people caught in the cold. In France, the Red Cross is appealing to the public for more than 10,000 blankets and in Poland, an emergency team in Warsaw is helping in a rest centre. The Red Cross of Serbia is running a homeless shelter close to the Hungarian border and providing hot food and drinks.

In Spain, Italy, Germany and Hungary, Red Cross volunteers are carrying out street patrols to provide hot drinks and food to homeless people. In Croatia, teams have been digging out homes from the snow and providing health care, medication and emergency supplies to people cut off by the weather.

The end of winter is seeing “rare but not unprecedented” weather conditions, with the extended cold spell in much of Europe alongside unusually high temperatures in the Arctic, the World Meteorological Organization – an IFRC partner agency – said at the end of last week.  Snow and freezing temperatures are expected to continue into early March.

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