MSB humanitarian aid operations in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) supports the operations of public authorities that are affected during a crisis or state of heightened alert. MSB is on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to take necessary measures quickly and flexibly, unilaterally or in cooperation with others.
MSB is assigned by the Swedish government to support countries afflicted by crises, disasters and conflicts around the world. Through this assignment, MSB has required many years of experience in disaster response and humanitarian aid.
MSB supports government agencies in affected countries to create better requirements for them to help people affected by war, crises or disasters. To do this, MSB often cooperates with the UN and EU-institutions to make sure that the assistance is received and distributed in the most efficient way. The experience and knowledge that MSB has in disaster response and humanitarian aid are turned into practice in hundreds of operations performed by MSB each year all over the world, but also in crises occurring in Sweden.
At this moment, Sweden receives many requests for assistance from several countries afflicted by Russia’s war on Ukraine. The requests are channelled by different UN offices like UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF et cetera. Many requests are also distributed by the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, which coordinates the EU humanitarian support. Below you will find a description of the Swedish aid that is carried out by MSB in response to the war on Ukraine.
MSB supports Ukraine
Many years of cooperation with Ukraine
MSB has cooperated with Ukrainian authorities for several years in the area of crisis management, contingency planning and disaster management in many different ways.
MSB contributes to the EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) that aims to support Ukrainian authorities in reforming the civil security sector.
As part of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), Sweden contributes in a Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, SSM, that has the task to observe and report about the situation in the country.
Since 2020, MSB is the lead partner in an EU-financed programme called “Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and man-made disasters in Eastern Partnership countries – phase 3 (PPRD East 3). The programme focuses on long term capacity development and aims at strengthen civil protection, disaster risk reduction and regional cooperation between the countries in the eastern partnership. At the moment, the cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities is dormant due to the urgent need to prioritize humanitarian operations.
The field staff in the above mentioned projects have all been evacuated or have terminated their contracts with MSB and the organisations are now looking into different ways to pursue with the projects in the severe situation.
Humanitarian aid to Ukraine
The situation in Ukraine is severe and every new information gathered points to an even worse development of the humanitarian situation the coming weeks.
MSB assesses every request from Ukraine thoroughly and cooperates closely with the UN, the EU, other Swedish agencies and other countries to be able to create support operations that have the most added value possible.
To this date, the Ukrainian authorities have requested many different kinds of humanitarian aid, mainly in the areas of shelter for internally displaced persons, non food items, fire fighting equipment, vehicles, medical equipment, medicines, medical transport et cetera. At the moment, Sweden supports, through MSB, in the following ways:
Shelter and support to internally displaced persons
As a stand by partner to the UNHCR, MSB supports Ukraine with equipment and experts to build a temporary shelter for up to 200 IDP:s (internally displaced persons) close to the border of Slovakia and Hungary.
Already in January 2022, MSB sent tents and generators to the Ukrainian civil protection authority.
MSB evaluates all incoming requests related to shelter and IDPs to see if more can be done from Sweden.
Fire fighting equipment
Sweden has, through MSB, sent containers with essential fire fighting equipment to the Ukrainian civil protection authorities. MSB has also supported the civil protection authorities in Gothenburg to donate a fire truck to Ukraine.
Medical equipment and medicines
MSB, the National Board of Health and Wellfare and the Swedish Medical Products Agency cooperate to respond to the needs of medical equipment and medicines in Ukraine. So far, ten trucks with essential medical equipment has been sent to Ukraine through this cooperation. In addition, one truck with medicines will soon be onis its way to Ukraine. The agencies continue to assess incoming requests to see if more can be done to support the Ukrainian people in this area.
MSB has sent a medical team to the EUAM (EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine). Their task is to support the border controls in health related issues.
MSB is ready to support with our medevac response team in order to transport patients to safe hospitals in Europe as soon as there is a destination and a designated receiver of the patients.
MSB supports Moldova
Moldova is a small country outside of the EU with a long border to Ukraine. They are at the moment facing a great challenge in receiving refugees from Ukraine.
Assessment and coordination experts
MSB has a long experience in assessing the consequences of disasters as well as in planning and coordinating incoming international aid in countries affected by disasters, crises and war. MSB has had an assessment team in Moldova who has reported back on the situation and on possible scenarios for the future. In addition, MSB supported the EU assessment team with a team leader with similar expertise. The EUCP Team are sent out to affected areas with the task to establish contact with local authorities and other aid organisations, give situation reports back to the EU member states and assess future consequences of the disaster. In addition, the EUCP team very often get the task to support the local government to coordinate incoming international aid.
Shelter and support to refugees
Sweden has supported Moldova, via the EU civil protection mechanism, by delivering tents and generators to temporary shelters for refugees.
MSB supports Poland
Within the EU, Poland is the country that receives most refugees from Ukraine at the moment. This is of course a big challenge for Poland who therefore has requested international aid in several areas. MSB assess all the incoming requests in order to create an efficient support to Poland.
MSB, in cooperation with the National Board of Health and Wellfare, is ready to support with our medevac response team as soon we have a clear destination and a hospital that is ready to receive patients.
Shelter and support to refugees is also an area where MSB is assessing the possibilities to support Poland.
MSB supports Slovakia
Similar to Moldova, Sweden supports by sending experts to the EUCP team. The EUCP Team are sent out to affected areas with the task to establish contact with local authorities and other aid organisations, give situation reports back to the EU member states and assess future consequences of the disaster. In addition, the EUCP team very often get the task to support the local government to coordinate incoming international aid.
MSB is assessing all incoming requests to see what possibilities we have to support Slovakia.
MSB supports Swedish authorities
MSB is also prepared to support the Swedish authorities that are responsible for handling the consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine. In this area MSB can support with expertise in crisis management and in the reception of refugees (transports, logistics and to some extent temporary shelter). MSB must also be prepared to support in other areas where the preparedness of society is challenged by a war in Europe. It might be consequences related to the disturbance in the essential services of the society due to the war.
At the moment MSB is supporting the Swedish Migration Agency by offering temporary shelter to refugees in our facilities in Revinge, in the south of Sweden. The same agency receives support with experts in crisis communication and also geographical information systems, who visualise situation reports to the management of the Migration agency.
MSB supports different Swedish agencies with response management, transport and logistics when an agency wants to donate equipment to Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
MSB support different international organisations
MSB is a partner to several UN agencies and international organisations and plays an active part in the EU civil protection mechanism. One way to support in a crisis or a war is to send expertise to the head offices and field offices of these organisations when the situation is especially severe. At the moment MSB supports the OSCE office in Vienna with security expertise. Furthermore, MSB has nominated several experts to different EUCP teams, information experts to UN OCHA, gender based violence experts and logistics experts to UNFPA, logistics experts to WFP and information management experts and WASH-experts to UNICEF.
The website krisinformation.se provides updated and accurate information from public authorities, as well as useful links. MSB is responsible for operating the website, which is also available as an app for smart phones. Many follow krisinformation.se on social media.
How to coordinate crisis management
MSB leads weekly collaboration conferences, meetings in which many public authorities and organisations participate. The purpose of these conferences is to share important information with each other and to agree on what needs to be done to strengthen Sweden's resilience. They are also important to ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of developing events. MSB then compiles a situational assessment which is sent to the Government Offices.
Not all measures taken are immediately made public. Certain information which foreign powers could use to harm Sweden cannot be shared openly.
In recent years, Sweden has worked intensively to strengthen our total defence. This work continues. We also have a solid foundation, built up over a long period, in preparedness for peacetime crises such as cyber disruptions, floods and forest fires. If and when the security situation deteriorates, national public authorities, county councils, companies and organisations will adapt their activities to work together effectively and manage the situation in the best possible way. Structures and procedures are in place.