The shocking scale of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocidal crimes committed by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian prisoners of war require at least a clear position and determination from all organizations that take care of compliance with the norms and requirements of international humanitarian law.
This was stated by the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak on Tuesday, Oct.18, based on the results of the Ukrainian delegation’s trip to the touchline in the Zaporizhzhia region, which was not attended by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Last week, during a video call with President of the Red Cross Mirjana Egger, Andriy Yermak called on representatives of the ICRC to visit the touchline together with the Ukrainian delegation and demand that the organization’s mission is allowed into the temporarily occupied territory to check the condition of Ukrainian prisoners in Olenivka.
On Monday, Human Rights Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Lubinets, Advisor to the Head of the Office of the President Daria Zarivna and people’s deputies Maria Mezentseva, Yehor Cherniev, Denys Maslov and Olena Khomenko arrived at the touch line in the Zaporizhzhia region on Monday. However, as Daria Zarivna reported at a briefing in Zaporizhzhia, ICRC representatives did not join the Ukrainian delegation on this trip.
“As Andriy Yermak said in this regard, war is a test for both people and international organizations. Unfortunately, the Red Cross not only tolerates Russian violations of all norms of international law, but also does it silently,” she emphasized, quoting the Head of the President’s Office.
Dmytro Lubinets noted that representatives of the ICRC, despite their commitments, have not yet visited the colony in Olenivka, where, in particular, defenders of “Azovstal” are kept.
“Unfortunately, during every exchange, we see that the inaction of the ICRC has led to the fact that our prisoners of war and civilian hostages are tortured daily with hunger, electricity, because the Russians know that the International Committee of the Red Cross will not come, will not demand access to the places of detention of prisoners of war and civilians, and that in general it demonstrates inaction,” the ombudsman said.
He stated that the ICRC does not fulfill its mandate, which provides for the visit to military and civilian hostages both in the temporarily occupied territories and in the territory of the Russian Federation, justifying this by the lack of permission from the Russian side.
In this context, Andriy Yermak emphasized: “Ukraine expects and demands from the International Committee of the Red Cross due determination in obtaining access to Ukrainian prisoners in Olenivka. After all, the organization was created precisely for such tasks.”
“We are aware that the main obstacle to the arrival of the ICRC mission to the place of forced detention of Ukrainians in Olenivka is primarily Russia’s destructive and cynical position. At the same time, unfortunately, we do not see that the ICRC is working to protect our prisoners. Ukrainian society does not see this. Relatives of the defenders do not see this,” the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine emphasized.
As Andriy Yermak noted, the Ukrainian side has every reason to expect decisive proactive actions by the ICRC in implementing its humanitarian mandate, as well as a clear public position and communication of all its actions aimed at overcoming the most acute humanitarian challenge in Europe.
The Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine also called on other international organizations and humanitarian actors to take active steps, as their direct human rights mandate should not allow them to stand aside and passively observe how Russia continues to commit the most brutal crimes of our time.
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