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European Commission Representation in Cyprus
Speech29 March 2022Representation in Cyprus

Opening Remarks by Commissioner Kyriakides to the EPSCO Health Council on the humanitarian and health situation in Ukraine

Check against Delivery

Weekly College meeting of the von der Leyen Commission, 02/03/2022


It has now been over a month since Russia launched its barbaric, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Since then, almost 4 million people have left their homeland. A very large part are vulnerable people: women, children and the elderly.

These are not just numbers, these are personal stories. It has been heart-breaking to hear these stories, but heart-warming to see the solidarity.

I would like to express my gratitude to all countries neighbouring Ukraine, and to all the countries now welcoming those fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

We are working closely with Member States and WHO Europe to set up triage hubs directly at the border for patients in the most affected Member States to speed up the transfers.

We also need to pay attention to the vaccination coverage for preventable diseases, especially for children, such as tuberculosis, polio and measles.

The efforts of HERA to secure childhood vaccines and other essential medical supplies is now bearing fruit.

I am pleased to announce today, via HERA, we have secured 200,000 diphtheria and tetanus vaccines donations from Sanofi for Ukraine and another around 70 thousand will go to Czechia, Slovakia and Moldova via the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.

The mental health of the refugees is an additional but equally significant issue, which we cannot neglect. The trauma is immense, particularly for the children.

Here too we will provide funds for the specific assistance that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is offering, along with civil society organisations.

We must also acknowledge the crucial role of civil society, health professionals’ associations and industry who are all playing their part.

The solidarity shown by NGOs active in the field of health is truly to be applauded.

I would also like to commend wholeheartedly the incredible solidarity of our citizens who have opened their homes and hearts to help the Ukrainian people.

Without our citizens these first weeks would have been impossible.

But clearly more is needed, and we must be prepared for the medium term.

On top of basic health checks we have to ensure, that refugees receive the healthcare they need.

At the same time, we must also ensure that national health systems have sufficient capacity to absorb them.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support to transfer Ukrainian patients across the EU a reality. 10,000 beds were made available immediately.   

Around 16 patients have so far been transferred, and the pace is increasing.


Our financial support for your health response to Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine is a given.

We have announced an emergency support package of EUR 500 million for response activities dealing with the humanitarian consequences.

Through our Home Affairs funds we can also release EUR 420 million in additional support.

The proposal for Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe will give you maximum flexibility to use unspent resources under our 2014-2020 cohesion policy for supporting actions.


Dear friends,

Our capacity for cooperation and our sense of solidarity have undergone severe trials over the past weeks and months.

I’m immensely proud to say that, after more than two years in the biggest health crisis in memory, our Union has more than lived up to them.

The brutal invasion of Ukraine is now another test of our values, our responsibility and our solidarity. And I am sure that we can live up to it again.

Thank you. 


Publication date
29 March 2022
Representation in Cyprus