Registered charities aiding people from Ukraine are being reminded that they have a serious duty of care and that all required safety and safeguarding procedures must be in place.

The Charities Regulator has asked charities to ensure that they have the necessary resources and capacity so that funds achieve their intended purpose.

Charities Regulator Chief Executive Helen Martin has asked charities to think and plan carefully before undertaking new initiatives, including relating to the conflict in Ukraine.

She said that any new activities must align with a charity's stated purpose and should be well thought through - so that assets and volunteer efforts are targeted properly and effectively.

Ms Martin said that where a charity is considering providing aid directly to Ukraine and neighbouring countries, they should link in with other registered charities already on the ground.

Additionally, they should check with the relevant government departments and agencies prior to undertaking any action so they fully understand all the procedures that the charity must follow.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Ms Martin said that the regulator recognises that the Irish people are eager to help the people of Ukraine, but insisted that established charities have a track record of providing the type of support that is needed.

"What we're saying to the public in particular is whether you're donating money or your time as a volunteer, what we're urging them to do is check first that they're donating to a registered charity or that they're volunteering with a registered charity.

"And the reason why we would say this is that it's really important that they give their time and their donations to charities with a track record of providing the kinds of supports and assistance that people from the Ukraine are going to need at this time.

She added: "We have a register of charities there and it's there for people to check."

Ms Martin said that supporting established charities is faster way to support people, as opposed to setting up new organisations.

Members of the public who are concerned about an organisation or group that may be in breach of charity law, can raise that concern with the Charities Regulator or with other relevant bodies where there may be potential breaches of other legislation.

In a statement, the regulator said: "The Charities Regulator does not regulate the specific services offered by registered charities, which are often regulated by other State agencies.

"However, any failure by a registered charity to adhere to the required standards of governance with regards to how the charity is run does fall within our remit.

"Where standards fall below what is expected, we will follow up with the charity concerned and, where necessary, will take appropriate regulatory steps to resolve any issues that have arisen."

The Regulator has called on charitable organisations to ensure they have required safety and safeguarding procedures in place. This has been echoed by Anti-Trafficking charity MECPATHS and the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.

Tusla CEO Bernard Gloster acknowledged that people have been trying to help, but stressed that where children are involved - charities need to avoid making arrangements until they have spoken to Tusla to ensure that basic safeguarding standards are adhered to.

"I know the Ombudsman for Children and others over the past week and now the Charities Regulator are all confirming that organisations do need to be careful moving children across international borders, and particularly children from a war torn situation where their level of trauma can be quite significant, that requires an enormous amount of preparation and a lot of consideration."

Mr Gloster asked charities to try to avoid assisting children to travel to Ireland without their parents.

He said many charities and organisations have good child safeguarding policies and procedures in place and advised those that do not to get themselves "educated and up to speed".

"Unfortunately in all of the goodwill that's experienced, and while it's great and we should encourage it, there there can be bad actors in in those situations, and we do need to be very careful," he said.

MECPATHS Education Manager Ann Mara acknowledged the encouraging response from the voluntary and the community sectors, however she stressed the need for charities to know that women and children arriving in Ireland are vulnerable to the risk of exploitation and trafficking.

"We look especially at unaccompanied children coming into this country who don't have a parent and who don't have a guardian. They are significantly exposed to the threat of trafficking or exploitation", she said.

Ms Mara said that not only should Garda vetting of staff and volunteers be in place, but organisations, charities and community groups also need to have safeguarding policies and procedures.

Tusla has said there are three groups of children that present from Ukraine requiring different levels of attention.

The first cohort are those who travel unaccompanied and who are brought to Tusla's attention by the border authorities.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Child and Family Agency has seen around 140 of these children arrive in Ireland.

The second group are children who come with adults who are not their parents, which it said can sometimes be appropriate. However, Tusla said it does require a significant level of checking, screening and support.

Almost 200 of those cases have been referred to the Child and Family Agency, which require follow up checks to ensure that the arrangements for those children are appropriate.

The third group, which is the most desirable from a child welfare perspective according to Tusla, are children who travel with their parents and seek refuge or protection.