Ukraine: Addressing misinformation about ICRC’s activities

News release 26 March 2022 Ukraine

Geneva (ICRC) - Over the past days, false information about the ICRC has been circulated that we must address, as it could have a major impact on people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. This misinformation is also putting at risk Red Cross staff and volunteers on the ground and could jeopardize our access to people in need of urgent aid.

That's why we must address this misinformation head on.

The ICRC does not ever help organize or carry out forced evacuations. This applies everywhere we work. We would not support any operation that would go against people's will and our principles. We have been involved in two evacuations of people in Ukraine – they took place in Sumy on March 15 and 18, when we facilitated the voluntary safe passage of civilians out of the city. On both occasions people willingly took buses leading them to another Ukrainian city, Lubny.

We have strengthened our response by deploying additional teams to Ukraine as well as to neighboring countries, including Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Russia, to support our operations and to respond effectively to humanitarian needs where they arise. As part of this regional scale-up, we are also discussing opening an office in Rostov in southern Russia, where we currently have no office.

Over the past 10 days and as part of ICRC's diplomatic efforts, ICRC President Peter Maurer travelled to Ukraine and Russia where he met representatives of the two countries to discuss crucial humanitarian matters.

Building and maintaining a dialogue with parties to a conflict is essential to get access to all people affected, by obtaining necessary security guarantees for our teams to deliver life-saving aid. This dialogue also serves to remind parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law, including for ICRC humanitarian visits to prisoners of war and other persons protected by the Geneva Conventions, wherever they may be.

Our sole objective is to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the armed conflict. And the suffering right now is simply immense. This is an extreme situation of life and death where populations are facing impossible choices – to stay or to flee; to forgo eating or risk venturing out from basements.

We are committed to massively up scaling our response to the devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region. You can find the latest information on how we're doing that here.

Note to editors:
1. Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. A neutral, independent and impartial organization, its mandate stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. it is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and works in more than 100 countries.
2. The ICRC has been working in Ukraine since 2014 with a team of over 600 staff members. Working closely with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and our Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners, we are increasing our response to the vast and growing humanitarian needs in Ukraine.

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