The head of the Red Cross appeals for aid in Ukraine

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine has become a “nightmare without a nightmare” for people living in besieged cities, a top official at the Society of Letters said. The Red Cross said Monday, calling for the safe passage of civilians and humanitarian aid through the front lines.

Robert Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also called the war a “disaster” for civilians affected by the fighting as people ran out of drinking water, food, medical supplies and fuel. materials for heating – especially in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Medical facilities also continue to be targets in attacks.

And while the Red Cross continues to confer with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine, Mr. Mardini said so far there have been no established routes for people to leave Mariupol and some of the other areas facing it. with fierce war.

“People are in dire need of shelter, and this is why the situation cannot, cannot continue like this,” he told The Associated Press during a visit to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. “History is watching what’s happening in Mariupol and other cities and civilians must be protected. So whether (it’s) a ceasefire, or a combination of a ceasefire and the safe evacuation of civilians. absolutely, is an absolute must.”

Russia began its war with Ukraine on February 24 after amassing troops on its border as part of what Moscow initially described as a series of exercises. In the time since, Russian forces have attacked cities, military bases and even the largest nuclear power plant in Europe while seemingly trying to dislodge the democratic government of Russia. Kyiv, which has seen military aid and support – albeit without direct military intervention – back home to the West.

The Geneva-based Red Cross, which supports those affected by war and tries to educate fighters about the rules of armed conflict, has 600 staff in Ukraine and plans to send about 100 more people. Mardini said several Red Cross vehicles were damaged by shrapnel or caught on fire, although its employees do not believe it was directly targeted, Mardini said.

However, he acknowledged the dire situation facing medical facilities in the country. There have been at least 31 attacks on medical facilities and ambulances, killing at least 12 people and injuring 34 others, according to the World Health Organization, according to the World Health Organization.

“This is a tragedy due to armed conflict occurring in densely populated areas and where high-altitude explosive weapons are used,” Mardini said. “And we’ve seen neighborhoods damaged and flattened and some hospitals receiving shelling, which of course is unacceptable because hospitals are protected by human rights law. international religion.”

Associated Press journalists witnessed a Russian attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, a port city of some 430,000 people on the Sea of ​​Azov. Fighting was particularly intense in Mariupol as Russian forces sought to create a land bridge from Russia to annexed Crimea.

Red Cross officials “also live in Mariupol, so they are feeling exactly what ordinary Ukrainians are feeling today in Mariupol,” Mardini said. “Recently they told us they were running short of drinking water. Food supplies were starting to run out. Medical supplies were extremely scarce. And there was also a huge pressure on shelters. Nope. have enough shelter.”

He added: “In Mariupol, the city is besieged and civilians today cannot get out of the city.”

Prisoners of war also remain a concern. When asked about viral social media videos of alleged Russian conscripts surrendering to Ukrainian forces, Mardini said: “Detainees should not be exposed to public curiosity. they.”

However, Mardini repeatedly declined to discuss the weapons used or describe in detail discussions he had with Russian and Ukrainian officials. He cited the Red Cross’s neutrality in conflict and the need to be able to access war-torn areas. However, he acknowledged the breadth of the destruction.

“When we look at the devastation, when we look at what some of the neighborhoods look like today, it’s really scary,” he said. “And it says a lot about a situation that isn’t a nightmare for the people who live there.”

Mardini said discussions are still going on about how to get civilians to safely flee Mariupol, but “it can’t happen in a matter of hours.”

“It takes days and it needs to be planned in a very professional way to give civilians the safety they need and they demand,” he said.

When asked if they have had success talking to both diplomats and those on the battlefield, Mardini added: “We will be able to report on success based on results on the ground, and Today we are still waiting for concrete action on the ground in the best interest of civilians.”

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