Ukraine-Russia international armed conflict: ICRC asks for immediate and unimpeded access to all prisoners of war

Russia-Ukraine international armed conflict: ICRC asks for immediate and unimpeded access to all prisoners of war

Geneva (ICRC)—We share the frustration regarding our lack of access to all prisoners of war (POWs) held in the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We have been working since February to obtain access to check on the conditions and treatment of POWs and keep their families informed about their loved ones. We have been able to visit hundreds of POWs but there are thousands more who we have not been able to see.
News release 14 October 2022 Ukraine Russia

The Third Geneva Convention obliges parties to an international armed conflict to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) immediate access to all POWs, and the right to visit them wherever they are held.  

We want to stress that our teams are ready on the ground—and have been ready for months—to visit the Olenivka penal facility and any other location where POWs are held. However, beyond being granted access by high levels of authority, this requires practical arrangements to materialize on the ground. We cannot access by force a place of detention or internment where we have not been admitted.  

All States have committed to respect the Geneva Conventions. Giving the ICRC access to visit prisoners of war is a legal obligation. It also helps preserve humanity in an international armed conflict that has created immeasurable loss for countless families.  

Our mission can only be achieved through coordinated efforts with parties to the armed conflict. And we ask them and the international community to support the role we have been given.


Note to editors and producers:

  1. Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide, helping people affected by armed 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.


For more information, please contact:

Crystal Wells, ICRC Geneva, +41 79 642 8056

Jennifer Sparks, ICRC Geneva (English), +41792173200

Achille Després, ICRC Kyiv (English, French, Italian)
+380 50 324 31 80,,

Galina Balzamova, ICRC Moscow (English, Russian), +7 903 545 35 34,

Matthew Morris, ICRC London (English), +44 7753 809 471

Frédéric Joli, ICRC Paris (French), +33 6 20 49 46 30

Eliza Shaw ICRC, Washington DC (English), +1 202-361-1566