ICRC says it has registered hundreds of PoWs from Azovstal

19 May, 08:26 PM
Transportation of the wounded defender of Mariupol in Novoazovsk, Donetsk region, May 16, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Transportation of the wounded defender of Mariupol in Novoazovsk, Donetsk region, May 16, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has registered hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) this week from the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol, the ICRC said in a press release on May 19.

Russia's war against Ukraine - the main events of May 19

It is noted that the ICRC started May 17 to register combatants leaving the Azovstal plant, including the wounded, at the request of the parties.

The operation continued on May 18 and was still ongoing on May 19.

At the same time, it is reported that the ICRC is not transporting POWs to the places where they are held.

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The registration process that the ICRC facilitated involves the individual filling out a form with personal details like name, date of birth and closest relative.

"This information allows the ICRC to track those who have been captured and help them keep in touch with their families," the report says.

Earlier a representative of the ICRC delegation, Oleksandr Vlasenko, told media that the organization's staff had visited the defenders of Mariupol, evacuated from Azovstal, in the temporarily occupied village of Olenivka, Donetsk region.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar on May 18 said that the rescue operation was underway, but "this process is very sensitive and any information we announce in public may harm both the process itself and our defenders."

Evacuation from Azovstal

On the night of May 17, Malyar said that 53 seriously injured defenders of Mariupol were taken to a medical center in occupied Novoazovsk for treatment, and another 211 were evacuated to occupied Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor. They will later return to the territory controlled by Ukraine through an exchange procedure.

The commanders of the military units stationed at Azovstal received an order from the top military leadership to save the lives of their personnel, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

Earlier on Monday, the Azov Regiment issued a statement saying that the defenders of Mariupol had complied with the order and hoped for the support of the Ukrainian people.

According to Malyar, there was no other way to save the soldiers in Azovstal. She said the operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol will continue until they return to territory controlled by Ukraine. Ukraine will exchange 52 seriously injured soldiers from Azovstal when their condition stabilizes, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that the defenders of Mariupol carried out the order, held up a group of 20,000 Russian invaders and prevented them from getting into Zaporizhzhya and further into Donetsk Oblast. He added that after that the soldiers received a new order – to save their own lives.

Ukrainian defenders at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol held their positions under full encirclement, as heavy fighting took place. Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, they have killed 6,000 invaders, Ukraine's military estimates. Russian forces launched dozens of strikes at Azovstal per day, using aircraft, tanks and heavy artillery.

About 1,000 Ukrainian defenders remained at Azovstal, of whom 600 were injured and 40 were in critical condition. They repeatedly asked for to be evacuated and reported that they were short of food, water, medicine and ammunition.

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