Red Cross chief heads to Moscow, hopes to secure POW visits

AFP

3 min read
International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pose for a photo in Moscow, Russia, June 23, 2021.
Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via APInternational Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pose for a photo in Moscow, Russia, June 23, 2021.

Maurer will bring up issues like 'prisoners of war, the deceased, and the conduct of hostilities' in Ukraine

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Monday he will travel to Moscow this week for talks about the conflict in Ukraine, including efforts to secure visits with detainees.

Peter Maurer told AFP he would travel to the Russian capital on Tuesday, nearly a month after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

He noted that he expects to meet with high-level defense and foreign ministries officials in the following days, and hoped to make progress on issues the ICRC has been raising as the caretaker of the Geneva Conventions, regarding "prisoners of war, the deceased, the conduct of hostilities."

The trip follows Maurer's visit to Ukraine last week, and he said he received "very positive indications" from both sides "with regard to our mandate and role under the Geneva Conventions."

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One of ICRC's main tasks in conflict situations is to seek access to detainees and to help secure humane treatment and conditions for them, as well as to try to restore communication with their families.

The organization has not gained access to prisoners of war held by either side in the conflict.

But "we have started to receive important information which will allow us to start big-scale (POW) visits I think very soon," Maurer said.

His visit comes after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday accused Moscow of seeking to "destroy" his country, and rejected Russian demands to surrender.

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