Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deploying additional staff to Russia and Ukraine and scaling up logistics arrangements in readiness for the delivery of aid to conflict-hit eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian and Russian authorities have each separately dispatched a convoy carrying aid for eastern Ukraine, and have asked the ICRC to facilitate delivery. The two countries are still finalizing such practical details as inspection and clearance procedures for the Russian convoy and confirmation of the strictly humanitarian nature of the cargo.
"As and when agreement is reached, we plan to deliver this humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict in eastern Ukraine, health facilities and other welfare organizations,” said Laurent Corbaz, ICRC head of operations for Europe and Central Asia, speaking from Kiev. “People are struggling to cope with limited access to basic services such as water and electricity, so speed is of the essence.”
A five-person ICRC team is already present in the vicinity of the Russian convoy, which is currently parked in the Rostov region, and 15 more staff are on the way. Another ICRC team has deployed to Starobilsk, where a Ukrainian aid convoy of around 50 trucks arrived this morning.
“We still need assurances from all parties to the conflict that our staff will be allowed to perform their tasks safely and with due respect for our humanitarian principles. Given the complex logistics and security challenges involved, this aid operation will take some time and we call on the authorities of both countries to do all they can to resolve outstanding issues quickly,” added Mr Corbaz.
Since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine, the ICRC and the Ukrainian Red Cross have been distributing relief items and supermarket vouchers to displaced people in need. They have also provided medical supplies to health facilities in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, mainly to improve treatment for the wounded. The ICRC is conducting humanitarian visits to places of detention run by the Ukrainian authorities on an ad hoc basis, and hopes to enter into a more formal agreement with the government. The ICRC is also seeking to visit people held by the armed opposition.
The ICRC continues to expand its humanitarian response to the situation in eastern Ukraine and has received financial support from Finland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Red Cross Societies of Canada and Japan.
For further information, please contact: Andre Loersch, ICRC Kiev, tel: +380 671 182 481 Victoria Zotikova, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 495 626 5426 or +7 903 545 3534 Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 30 23 or +41 79 251 93 02 Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70