Iryna Vereshchuk, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, expressed hope that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would consider Ukraine’s appeal on the fate of Ukrainian citizens forcibly displaced to Russia.
In the appeal, our country strongly condemns the forced deportation of civilians by Russia. Ukraine also expresses its concern about the Red Cross’s intention to open an office in Rostov-on-Don to work with forced Ukrainians deported to Russia.
It is stated in the appeal that Ukrainian citizens are separated from their families and forcibly relocated to remote regions of Russia. The Ukrainian government is aware that russian troops have abducted more than 2,000 Ukrainian children and their whereabouts are unknown. There are numerous cases of abduction, hostage-taking and ill-treatment of civilians by the occupier. In particular, in the russian federation in them the Ukrainian passports are taken away, Ukrainians are forbidden to depart from the russian territory.
Such actions of the russian federation are a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the removal, as well as individual or mass forcible transfer of protected persons from the occupied territories to the territory of the occupying state or any other country, regardless of the reasons for evacuation / resettlement. In international armed conflicts, such acts are war crimes.
Therefore, the Ukrainian Government is concerned about the ICRC’s intention to open an office in Rostov-on-Don to work with Ukrainian citizens forcibly displaced in Russia. After all, strengthening the institutional presence of the committee in Russia may be misinterpreted by Russia in order to legitimize such forceful movements. And this step may encourage the aggressor state to intensify this resettlement, which will worsen the already dramatic situation.
The Ukrainian side urges the ICRC to focus primarily on resolving the problem of the forced relocation of Ukrainian citizens and facilitating their rapid return. It is necessary to request from Russia information about our citizens, in particular prisoners of war held by Russia, and protect them from cruel, inhuman, or ill-treatment.
“Ukraine has officially appealed to the President Peter Maurer of the ICRC to obtain from russia lists of all our citizens who were forcibly deported by the occupiers from Mariupol, and to provide them with the opportunity to return to Ukraine” – Iryna Vereshchuk said.
She assured that she would inform the public about the results of the consideration of the appeal as soon as they become known.
Ukraine also asks the ICRC to intensify its efforts to ensure the safe operation of humanitarian corridors agreed with the Ukrainian government for civilians to pass from besieged cities to safe areas.