Ukraine initiates international mission to monitor conditions of Ukrainian POWs

9 December 2022, 06:34 PM
Head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak (Photo:Office of the President)

Head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak (Photo:Office of the President)

Ukraine is working to establish an international mission to monitor the conditions of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs), the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted Presidential Chief-of-Staff Andriy Yermak as saying during a briefing on Dec. 9.

“We have appealed to the world’s (human rights) ombudsmen, we have appealed to international organizations to join,” he said.

“And we’re currently working on the establishment of such a mission that could really get to the places where our hostages are being held.”

According to Yermak, the information center for the release of Ukrainian prisoners does not receive any data from the aggressor country, and if it does, this information is “very difficult to consider real.”

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The official added there had been no monitoring of the conditions of Ukrainian citizens in Russian captivity on the part of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – something about which he had personally informed the ICRC president.

Meanwhile, speaking at “UA: Human Rights in Dark Times” International Conference in Kyiv on Dec. 9, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian authorities do not see determination and concrete actions in the relevant processes from such organizations as the ICRC, and“we have to search and find new people in new realities, new formats of interaction, new lines of cooperation.”

“Protecting people wherever they are, we have to bring everyone back,” he said. “This is our duty.”

“Perhaps this system – the system of ombudsmen and the international component of cooperation in this system – will be able to bring us closer to the result we strive for: The return home of all Ukrainians: adults, children, prisoners of war, political prisoners – all those forcibly detained in the territory of Russia and temporarily occupied territories of our country.”

ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric arrived in Ukraine on a working visit on Dec. 9.

In early November, Ukrainian Ombudsperson Dmytro Lubynets said the ICRC had “removed itself” from fulfilling its duties.

“The ICRC... which is supposed to monitor places of detention of prisoners of war and civilian hostages, doesn’t receive Russia’s permission to do so,” he said.

“In this way, in my view, they actually removed themselves from fulfilling their mandate. On the one hand, they aren’t allowed (to do their work), and we understand that. On the other hand, they don’t even publicly say that they aren’t given permission. In their reports, they don’t even mention Russia.”

In October, Ukraine called on the ICRC to send a mission to a Russian prisoner-of-war camp in occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, where at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners had been killed as a result of a Russian false flag attack on July 29.

Yermak stated that if the ICRC did not fulfil its mandate to oversee prisoner conditions, Ukraine, together with its partners, would form their own expert group on the matter.

After that, the Red Cross announced it “shares the disappointment” of the Ukrainian government and asked for immediate access to all prisoners of war.

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