“Horrible levels of death and destruction”: even the Red Cross has difficulties with Putin, with catastrophic results
For five weeks, Peter Maurer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has been trying to improve the situation of the Ukrainian population. But all attempts to build escape corridors or bring humanitarian aid to besieged cities have failed. The Red Cross is “deeply concerned” about development and fears further suffering for the elderly, the sick and children.
When bombs fall and people suffer, they bring help and hope to the world, and they have been doing so for over 150 years: employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) try to help people in armed conflict save their lives, their lives protect dignity. This was the case in WWI and WWII, in many other conflicts – and now in Ukraine.
Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against neighboring Russia is entering its fifth week. The balance is devastating: cities bombed, infrastructure destroyed, many dead and wounded, millions of people on the run. The Red Cross, currently present in ten locations in Ukraine with around 750 helpers, draws a bitter conclusion: “The civilian population continues to be exposed to a horrifying and unacceptable level of death, destruction and suffering.”
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The Red Cross laments the stubbornness of the warring factions
For five weeks, the ICRC has been desperately trying to alleviate the suffering of civilians in the combat zone, as well as the plight of wounded soldiers and prisoners of war, sadly in vain.
Peter Maurer, president of the Geneva-based ICRC, has now had to admit that his talks with, among others, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin were unsuccessful. “The ICRC is deeply concerned that the parties have not been able to reach consensus on key issues that only they can concretely resolve,” said Maurer.
Proposals for safe escape corridors, but no agreements
The head of the Red Cross explained that his organization had made “detailed proposals” for safe escape corridors and for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, for example. But the conflicting parties could agree “no concrete agreement”, according to Maurer. “Today, civilians must flee in danger of their lives despite the lack of a ceasefire or other agreement that would allow them to leave the city safely.”
According to Maurer, the local armed forces would also prevent supplies of aid from reaching the war zone. “Time is running out for the civilian population of Mariupol and other front-line areas, which have been out of humanitarian aid for weeks.”
Hope for Cherson’s 130 orphans is fading
This also applies to the 130 orphans who are stranded in Cherson, southern Ukraine, and await a safe escape route from the city to Germany. The Foreign Ministry, led by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Verdi), is trying to find a quick solution. But according to current Red Cross assessments, a safe departure for children is likely to be a long way off.
Read here: “My heart breaks”: 130 orphans are waiting to be saved by Putin’s troops
The ICRC president also accuses the warring parties of violating their obligations under international law. He invited Moscow and Kiev to inform the Red Cross about the prisoners of war they are holding and to allow the ICRC to visit them. Maurer: “The parties must implement concrete proposals for a dignified treatment of the dead so that they can be identified, the families informed and the bodies returned”.
The Red Cross denies involvement in forced evacuations
The humanitarian organization vehemently defends itself against “a wave of disinformation and disinformation” about the ICRC’s work in Ukraine. There is a claim that the Red Cross was involved in the forced evacuations of people. “The ICRC has not been and is not involved in forced evacuations or forced transfers of civilians from Mariupol or any other Ukrainian city to Russia,” the aid workers said. “We would never support a measure that goes against the will of the people.”
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Such reports were intended to “discredit” the Red Cross, according to the organization. As a result, the possibility of providing urgent humanitarian aid to Ukraine is seriously “threatened”. Since the outbreak of the war, the ICRC has shipped over 500 tons of medical supplies, food and humanitarian aid to the country, but the need is far greater. Peter Maurer once again urged Moscow and Kiev to respect international humanitarian law and “to allow neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian aid”.
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