Ukraine war

Red Cross denied access to prisoners at Russian-held Olenivka despite ‘intense’ talks

Red Cross denied access to prisoners at Russian-held Olenivka despite ‘intense’ talks
Relatives of the Azovstal defenders together with others hold banners reading 'Olenivka', 'RedCross UN WTF' 'Save our defenders' among others as they attend a rally in memory of those who were killed in the blast at Olenivka detention center, calling the international organizations to save Azovstal defenders who were captured by Russian forces, in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, 04 August 2022. UN Secretary-General Guterres on 03 August said he would launch a mission to investigate the circumstances of the killings of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Olenivka. Russian officials said that 53 Ukrainian PoWs were killed on 29 July in the detention center in a blast at the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka, Donetsk Province, for which both Ukraine and Russia blame each other. Ukraine alleges that many of those who were killed and injured in the blast were Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol's Azovstal steel works, who surrendered in May during the Russian siege of the plant. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY

KYIV, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Red Cross officials have failed to secure access to Ukrainian prisoners of war held in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka where dozens were killed in an attack in July, the head of the international aid group said on Thursday.

Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over the missile strike or explosion in the front-line town of Olenivka in eastern Donetsk that killed prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists.

International Committee of the Red Cross Director-General Robert Mardini told reporters in Kyiv that the group was engaged in intense negotiations with Russian authorities, but had not been granted access to those POWs and also lacked security guarantees to carry out such a visit.

The Red Cross registered 1,800 people taken from the besieged Azovstal steel works in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, with the understanding that it would be allowed to visit them, but that has not been possible, he told a news conference.

Olenivka is about 90 km (55 miles) north of Mariupol.

Mardini said the Red Cross had visited hundreds of POWs on both sides of the war, now in its seventh month, but there were thousands more it still had not been able to see.

“We are negotiating every day to have full access to all prisoners of war,” Mardini said. “It is clearly an absolute obligation (of) the parties to give the ICRC access to all prisoners of war.”

He declined to provide any details about conditions in the prisons that had been visited.

Mardini said the group was discussing the lack of access to prisoners at the Olenivka site with officials at “every level” of the Russian government and was engaged in a “very constructive” dialogue with the Ukrainian government about what he called an “unsatisfactory” situation.

Mardini said the Red Cross had facilitated the transport of over 1,000 letters from Ukrainian troops being held in Russia to Ukraine, where they will be delivered to their families.

He said the aid group had provided more than 3,000 families with news of their loved ones since the start of the war, which Russia calls a “special military operation”.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options