ICRC agrees to be neutral intermediary in Ukraine conflict

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has declared its desire to maintain contact with the Russian human rights community to support refugees from Ukraine, Bruno Husquinet, Deputy Head of the ICRC regional delegation to Russia, Belarus, and Moldova, said in a letter to the chairman of the Russian presidential Human Rights Council.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has declared its desire to maintain contact with the Russian human rights community to support refugees from Ukraine, Bruno Husquinet, Deputy Head of the ICRC regional delegation to Russia, Belarus, and Moldova, said in a letter to the chairman of the Russian presidential Human Rights Council.

"Indeed the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is of great concern for all, and the ICRC continues to expand its activities and operations. We would like to take this opportunity further discuss these matters in Moscow and strengthen our dialogue with your respected office," says the letter forwarded in response to Human Rights Council Chairman Mikhail Fedotov's address. Similar letters have also been forwarded to Russian Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova and Executive Director of the international organization Just Aid Yelizaveta Glinka.

"The ICRC remains very preoccupied with the fate of civilians living in combat areas. It reiterates its call for all parties involved in the on-going military operation for a full respect of the protection due to civilians, as specified by international humanitarian law," it said.

"On several occasions, the ICRC has offered to be a neutral intermediary. On 26 July the ICRC as a neutral intermediary assisted in repatriation of 3 wounded Ukrainian soldiers from Rostov hospital back to Ukraine. A similar support was organized on 31 July. We stand ready to continue [to] play a role of a neutral intermediary for strictly humanitarian purposes," it said.

The ICRC "can be involved in evacuations of civilians, providing that such evacuations are agreed by BOTH parties - Ukrainian government and armed groups," it said.

As a precondition for this, the ICRC insists on guarantees of safe passage for its personnel and those evacuated throughout the process, "bearing in mind that the ICRC does not accept armed escorts for its vehicles and staff."

"This means a ceasefire must remain in force for as long as it takes for the evacuation to be carried out in the respective area," the letter says.

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