/ Go to the photo bankHumanitarian aid convoy for Ukraine’s south-east at Donetsk border crossing point / Go to the photo bankMOSCOW (Sputnik), Ksenia Shakalova – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is eager to work on establishing humanitarian corridors in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian military operation, ICRC President Peter Maurer said.The ICRC president was visiting the eastern European country from 14-18 March.”We are very much committed to facilitate agreement [on humanitarian corridors], but the agreement and the consensus have to happen between the military on the ground who are in control of the territories, who have the power to decide on decontaminating exit routes and de-mining exit routes,” Maurer said.The official noted the ICRC’s involvement in evacuation of people from the city of Sumy last week.”What we can do is to discuss with Russia and Ukraine on our experience in many other places of the world. We have a check list on what to consider when you discuss corridors. We need arrangements, exact agreements on the routes, on the streets, we need coordinates where the military are, we need agreements between the militaries on what happens when there are incidents, hotlines between the two sides, the commanders on the ground,” Maurer stated.According to the president, ICRC members recently managed to escape the city of Mariupol, which is encircled by Russian forces, along with thousands of other people.”We are preparing, pre-organizing a humanitarian assistance into Mariupol but it is still a little bit away and we are just building the logistics so when the road is clear hopefully soon that we can deliver humanitarian assistance into Mariupol,” Maurer explained.According to the UN refugee agency, around 3.5 million people have already left Ukraine for neighboring countries, of which 230,000 came to Russia, since the start of hostilities. Around 6.5 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has received more than 250 million Swiss francs ($268 million) for its activities in Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian military operation, ICRC President said.
“Because of the generosity of our donors we are already more financed and we have already received more than 250 million. So we will certainly plan and spend this money for good purposes and for humanitarian assistance in the whole of Ukraine,” Maurer said, noting that the organization made a provisional appeal of 153 million Swiss francs ($164 million). Before the recent hostilities, the ICRC was spending about 75 million Swiss francs a year in Ukraine.Situation in UkraineRussian Forces Close to Defeating Ukrainian Nationalist Battalion ‘Donbass’, Defence Ministry Says20 March, 17:24 GMTMaurer said he had discussed expanding humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and a prisoner exchange with the country’s government.”Firstly, how to scale, to speed, to adopt humanitarian assistance to the present landscape of the conflict, to the needs. That was a big part of our work. Secondly, to discuss with the Ukrainian government the delicate issue of obligations that each side has to the Geneva conventions: the prisoners, detainees, dead bodies, missing people, and how to treat each one of those issues and how eventually to prepare for exchanges in the future,” Maurer said, adding that the third issue involved “modalities of how ICRC can work to facilitate [humanitarian] corridors and evacuations.”The official also drew attention to the organization’s wide range of activities, which include addressing displacement, ensuring respect for the Geneva conventions, working on missing people, as well as providing medical services, water, sanitation and basic daily goods. Another major issue is helping those traumatized by warfare and in need of psychological support.”So ICRC is really working on the broad agenda of bringing humanitarian goods to people but also addressing some of the difficult issues of prisoners of war, detained, deceased, missing [people],” Maurer stated.The official also said that Kiev still has working health and social infrastructure, despite fighting during the Russian military operation, but Kharkiv and Mariupol are among the cities where the humanitarian situation is dire.”We have a fair idea that the humanitarian situation is different in different parts of the country. In some parts which are not affected by the conflict so heavily life goes on normally. In regions like here in Kiev you have combat operations going in the neighborhood, but the infrastructure in the town – the health, water, sanitation, social services are still working normally,” Maurer said.President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer said in an interview with Sputnik that his organization was talking to the Russian Red Cross about increasing support for refugees from Ukraine coming to Russia amid Moscow’s military operation.
“ICRC is ready to continue to work on both sides and on all sides of neighbors of Ukraine including Russia. And we are in talks with the Russian Red Cross on what is needed to support their reception of displaced people coming to [the Russian city of] Rostov and other cities. We are ready to increase that operation,” Maurer said.
According to the president, the ICRC has worked with the Red Cross Federation and national societies to establish basic family reunification in neighboring countries, specifically Romania, Hungary, Moldova and Poland.Maurer will pay a three-day visit to Moscow Wednesday to Friday, the Russian office of the organization said.
On 24 February, Russia began a military operation to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine,” responding to calls from the breakaway Donbass republics for help in countering the aggression of Ukrainian forces. The Russian Defence Ministry said the operation is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure only.