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International Red Cross Ready to Mediate Prisoner Exchange in Ukraine

© AFP 2023 / VASILY MAXIMOVUkrainian prisoners stand as a soldier of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk stands guard during a prisoner exchange with Ukraine on December 26, 2014.
Ukrainian prisoners stand as a soldier of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk stands guard during a prisoner exchange with Ukraine on December 26, 2014. - Sputnik International
The ICRC praised efforts Russia had made to help people in Ukraine as "extraordinary". The ICRC will ask its financial donors to increase the funding of the mission in Ukraine to help the people of the country's east.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is ready to mediate prisoner exchanges in Ukraine, but as of today neither of the sides to the conflict has approached the organization with such a request, the head of the ICRC regional delegation to Russia, Belarus and Moldova, Pascal Cuttat told RIA Novosti.

"We are welcoming any agreement between the sides [of the Ukrainian conflict] that leads to the release and to the return of people who are deprived of their liberty in relation to the conflict. We have offered our services to both parties of the conflict and have shared procedures on how to do that. We are ready to serve as a neutral intermediary in the event of any simultaneous release of prisoners," Cuttat said, adding no such requests has yet been made.

The Red Cross official added that the employees of the ICRC mission in Ukraine have already visited the prisoners in the places where they are being kept by both the Ukrainian authorities and the independence supporters.

Kiev, Zaporizhia, Odessa, Poltava, Mariupol, Donetsk and Luhansk are among such places, Cuttat added.

Prisoners of war (POWs), representing Ukrainian armed forces and escorted by members of the armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, line up as they visit a site near the public transport stop, where civilians were earlier killed on Thursday, in Donetsk, January 22, 2015. File photo. - Sputnik International
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An all-for-all prisoner exchange was stipulated in the deal that the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany reached during Ukrainian reconciliation talks in Minsk last week. The deal also calls for a ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal and constitutional changes.

On Wednesday, Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) representative Denis Pushilin said that the Kiev forces and the independence supporters are preparing lists for the prisoner exchange.

International Red Cross Ready to Participate in Russian Humanitarian Convoys

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is ready to participate in Russian humanitarian convoys to southeastern Ukraine if Kiev and Moscow agree on the conditions of aid delivery, Pascal Cuttat added.

"We can be involved [in sending humanitarian convoys to Ukraine]… if there is an agreement between the two sides on how the convoys should be organized," he said.

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He stressed that southeastern Ukraine was in dire need of humanitarian aid and welcomed efforts of everyone who is willing to assist. He said efforts Russia had made to help people in Ukraine who had suffered from the armed conflict in the country were extraordinary.

According to Cuttat, ICRC President Peter Maurer would discuss with Russian authorities their vision of the situation and how the ICRC could help to improve the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine during his upcoming visit to Moscow.

ICRC Head of Operations for Europe and Central Asia Laurent Corbaz told RIA Novosti earlier that the organization's president would visit Moscow and Kiev from February 23 to 27.

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Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have been suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis as a result of a military operation launched by Kiev against Donbas independence fighters in April 2014.

Russia has sent 14 humanitarian convoys to Ukraine's southeast, with the latest one delivering aid to Donbas on February 15. So far, Russia has provided more than 18,000 tons of humanitarian cargo to the conflict-hit regions since August 2014.

Red Cross to Ask Financial Donors for Extra Funding for Ukraine Mission

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will ask its financial donors to increase the funding of the ICRC mission in Ukraine as the current budget may prove not enough to help the people of the country's east, the head of the ICRC regional delegation to Russia, Belarus and Moldova said.

Cuttat said, that the budget of the ICRC mission in Ukraine for 2015 is 46 million Swiss francs (almost $50 million), which places it among the top 10 of most expensive operations but still "we have a feeling that that may not be enough."

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"Therefore we will be preparing an extension for our budget, which will be put in front of the donors at the right moment," he added.

Cuttat noted, that the number of mission's employees in Ukraine will increase together with funds.

According to Cuttat, the above-said does not include the ICRC activities in Russia. "We will also need a budget extension for the Russian Federation," he said.

"We are also going to ramp up the numbers getting assistance here [in Russia] as well to 40,000, and for that we don't have enough money as well today," Cuttat noted.

According to the most recent data, Russia's Rostov region is currently hosting 39,000 Ukrainian refugees and Krasnodar region – about 38,000.


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