IRU, its members and the road transport sector in Europe and beyond, are responding and working night and day to help people caught up in the Ukraine crisis.
Millions of ordinary citizens are affected by the military action in Ukraine. More than half a million people, including refugees but also coach drivers and their passengers, and truck drivers, are stuck in Ukraine trying to leave the country.
Thousands of other truck drivers, of all nationalities, are stranded around Ukraine and further afield in places, for example, as far away as Iran. The flow of vital goods, including food, water and medicine, is being severely affected across the region. Humanitarian conditions are dire in many places, especially at borders.
Our first priority is the unfolding humanitarian crisis and how road transport can help in moving people, especially refugees, and in ensuring goods such as food and medicine can be transported.
IRU passenger transport members across Europe are setting up support programmes with their bus and coach member firms to help move refugees. Flixbus, as one example, is offering free journeys for refugees from Ukraine into and via Poland and Romania.
IRU is currently lobbying governments and international authorities for flexibility in coach driving and rest time rules in order to assist coach operators to transport refugees.
Amongst many examples in goods transport, Polish road transport operators, via IRU member ZMPD, are helping the World Food Programme move aid to Ukraine; ČESMAD Slovakia and ČESMAD Bohemia have provided aid convoys from Slovakia and the Czech Republic; and Hungarian member Waberer’s International is sending trucks with humanitarian aid from Hungary to Ukraine.
Offers of support from around the global IRU network are coming in. We will soon publish a list of organisations in affected countries for donations, and we are exploring how the industry can provide further help to aid efforts.
Support stranded drivers
Following IRU’s open call last Friday to governments to ease passage, protect drivers and waive visas and permits, many authorities reacted rapidly. Some stranded drivers have been able to return to their homes, including those who have had to alter their route significantly due to closed borders or fighting.
Several examples stand out, for example, the Romanian government’s waiving of all procedures to cross its borders from Ukraine directly or via Moldova.
Reports from the ground however paint a worsening picture of conditions in many border regions and much more needs to be done. Border guards are prioritising women and children; however this means truck drivers are being stranded for many days, in some cases without any food or water.
Stranded drivers urgently need support from local authorities or humanitarian groups to survive, especially inside Ukraine. IRU is in constant contact with its members and local authorities to address these conditions and direct support to the most needed areas.
Inside Ukraine, drivers are also stranded in military controlled areas, sometimes not allowed to leave their cabins, and financial system issues are affecting all areas. Some drivers, for example, are not able to use credit or bank cards to buy food, water or fuel when these items are available.
Many stranded drivers in Ukraine, of many nationalities, were there when the military action started last Thursday. They were diligently doing their job as normal, and now just want to return home.
We repeat our call from last week to all governments, including all authorities operating in Ukraine:
- Waive visas, permits and driving time rules for all truck and coach drivers – regardless of nationality, vehicle and cargo origin – in order for them to return home as soon as possible
- Allow humanitarian organisations, including the Red Cross and others, to include stranded drivers in their aid efforts, especially in providing water, food and warm clothing
- Ease and ensure rapid passage of commercial vehicles, especially across borders
Keep vital goods moving
With millions of people affected in and around Ukraine, keeping goods moving is critical. Normal customs processes have been altered and, following many hundreds of individual issues with trucks, IRU is following up with its members and with customs authorities in multiple countries to keep trucks and their cargos moving.
Our member associations are providing detailed instructions to operators who have blocked vehicles and cargo in their territory, including our member AsMAP Ukraine. IRU is publishing operational alerts to its members. Specific requests on cargo and customs processes in the region, including the TIR system, can also be addressed to email@example.com. Please include location, vehicle registration, driver name, cargo origin and destination.
IRU is also calling on all governments in the region for:
- Flexibility in applying customs procedures, especially in cases where paperwork is missing due to routes having been changed
- Unbiased application of customs rules for all drivers and vehicles, regardless of nationality, origin of goods, and place of vehicle registration
The road transport sector is rising to the challenge of keeping people and goods moving into, out of, and around Ukraine to support the millions of innocent citizens, and the drivers and workers of road transport.