Russia, Ukraine to Enable Safe Evacuations, ICRC Demands

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Ukraine and Russia have to agree on the delivery of aid and on the safe evacuation of civilians from frontline areas, where vitals are running out, especially from the besieged Mariupol, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) demanded on Tuesday.

Speaking from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, ICRC director-general Robert Mardini warned that people are caught and trapped in the line of fire not only in Mariupol but in many other places in Ukraine and need to be evacuated safely, reminding the warring sides of international obligations to protect civilians.

Ukraine and Russia are also urged to let the ICRC visit POWs in line with the Geneva Conventions, and return the remains of the dead.

Mardini stressed that ICRC is not participating in the alleged forced deportations of Mariupol residents to Russia, something that Ukraine has accused the agency of since it would violate the rules of war.

He also added that ICRC has no direct information about such deportations and informed that there are ongoing talks for the ICRC to open an operational base in Rostov-on-Don in Russia as part of its regional scale-up.

Mardini infirmed that there’s an ongoing and outrageous disinformation campaign against the ICRC on social media and politicization of humanitarian work, which is raising the risks for aid workers, noting – without giving more details – that the Ukrainian Red Cross was already attacked.

Previously last week, Ukrainian political analyst Roman Rukomeda has accused ICRC in an opinion piece for Euractiv of taking the Russian side in the conflict despite the war crimes that Russian troops are allegedly committing each day in Ukraine.

According to Rukomeda, who expressed hope that there will be a reasonable explanation from the agency, ICRC’s bizarre and unacceptable decision to open an office in Russia’s Rostov only means it will assist “Russian terrorists” in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian citizens.

He also accused the Red Cross of keeping silent about Russian filtration camps for captured Ukrainian citizens and denying access to Ukrainian POWs.

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