“I have seen people well up when they see how much care has been put into what has been sent and that makes a real difference,” says Þórir Guðmundsson, head of relief aid at the Icelandic Red Cross, about the response to Icelandic clothing parcels in Belarus.
“There are a million people who have fled their homes in Ukraine, and the war there seems to be heating up again, even though there is supposedly a ceasefire. These people either go elsewhere inside Ukraine or to neighboring countries, like Russia. We are helping the people who end up in Belarus, which is a country we have worked with a great deal, among other things by sending over clothes which 460 volunteers across the country are knitting and bagging up and we are going to send a shipping container full of warm clothing to Belarus,” Þórir told RÚV.
There are no proper refugee facilities in Belarus and the winters are very harsh. “Many are able to go to friends or family. Others need to rely on the help of people they don’t know, and many get a room in a private house.”
The Icelandic Red Cross prioritizes helping families with a lot of children, the elderly and the disabled. “The Red Cross has emergency shelter but there is not much room and there are always more people. There is great need,” Þórir says.
The container will be sent later this month and it is not too late to donate. You do not need to knit the warm clothes yourself, and all good clothes and footwear are warmly welcome. Just pop it in a bag marked “Ukraine” and get it to your local Icelandic Red Cross center. In the capital area you can do this at Sorpa waste and recycling sites and also in Red Cross collection banks on street corners.
Þórir says he has personally witnessed what a big difference these donations make in Belarus. Beneficiaries are genuinely touched by how carefully the high quality clothing has been cleaned and packed and are delighted to look good and feel warm in clothing without any holes.