Red Cross ‘ready to facilitate’ Russian aid to east Ukraine

August 12, 2014 10:34 am
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A woman walks past a damaged house in Donetsk on August 11, 2014. Ukrainian troops have been shelling neighborhoods in the city in an attempt to drive out pro-Russian separatists/AFP
A woman walks past a damaged house in Donetsk on August 11, 2014. Ukrainian troops have been shelling neighborhoods in the city in an attempt to drive out pro Russian separatists/AFP

, GENEVA, August 12- The Red Cross is prepared to coordinate humanitarian aid deliveries from Russia to conflict ravaged eastern Ukraine, but said Tuesday it was still awaiting confirmation its strict conditions could be met.

The International Committee of the Red Cross “is ready to facilitate such an operation with the involvement, endorsement, and support of all sides concerned,” it said in a statement late Monday.

But amid reports Tuesday that a large Russian aid convoy was heading for eastern Ukraine, ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk stressed that the organisation had yet to give the final green light for the operation.

“We still need to get some more information before we can move ahead,” she told AFP.

A Russian convoy of 280 trucks was heading for eastern Ukraine Tuesday carrying 2,000 tonnes of “humanitarian supplies”, Russian media reported, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was dispatching aid to Ukraine in cooperation with the Red Cross.

Russia has pushed for a humanitarian ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as Kiev’s forces have encircled large rebel held cities in the region, but Western countries fear Moscow will use the aid mission as cover for sending in troops it has reportedly massed at the border.

The ICRC said in its statement Monday that it had discussed the matter with Russian and Ukrainian authorities, and had laid out its conditions for facilitating an aid mission.

All sides would need to agree that ICRC would deliver the aid “with due respect for its fundamental working principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence,” the organisation said.

The charity also insisted Russian authorities hand over “all necessary details concerning the aid, including the volume and type of items, and requirements for transport and storage” in advance of an aid operation.

“All parties must also guarantee the security of ICRC staff and vehicles,” it added.

Isyuk said Tuesday morning that the ICRC was “still waiting for qualification of some technical details,” including on the type and volume of aid and on security guarantees for the organisation’s staff.

She said it remained unclear how quickly an operation could get underway with the ICRC’s blessing.

“The situation is changing by the hour so it’s very difficult to make a forecast,” she said.

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