Geneva / Kiev / Moscow (ICRC) - The ICRC is extremely concerned about the plight of people in need of assistance and protection as a result of conflict in eastern Ukraine.
"It is urgent that aid reaches people in Lugansk and in other areas in the eastern part of the country, which have sustained heavy fighting over the past weeks," said Laurent Corbaz, the ICRC's head of operations for Europe and Central Asia. "The situation is critical – thousands of people are reported to be without access to water, electricity and medical aid."
In response to the latest initiative of the authorities of the Russian Federation to hand over humanitarian assistance to the ICRC in order to help people and areas affected by conflict in eastern Ukraine, the ICRC is ready to facilitate such an operation with the involvement, endorsement, and support of all sides concerned.
Today the ICRC met with the Ukrainian and the Russian authorities and shared a document which specifies the manner in which such an operation could take place. This includes the agreement by all sides that the ICRC will be allowed to deliver the aid with due respect for its fundamental working principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence.
The document also stipulates, among other matters, that prior to beginning of the operation, the ICRC should receive without undue delay from the authorities of the Russian Federation all necessary details concerning the aid, including the volume and type of items, and requirements for transport and storage. All parties must also guarantee the security of ICRC staff and vehicles, for the entire duration of the operation, in view of the fact that the organization does not accept armed escorts.
"The practical details of this operation need to be clarified before this initiative can move forward," said Mr Corbaz.
The ICRC is emphasizing that the parties to the conflict have an obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, which is impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction, subject to the right of control.