The Red Cross is still blocked from the Russian prison camp where the Ukrainians were killed
The International Committee of the Red Cross has not received confirmation that it will be allowed to visit the detention center where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners were killed in an explosion, the organization said in a statement on Sunday.
At least 50 prisoners were killed and dozens injured in an explosion late on Thursday in the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka in Donetsk province, eastern Ukraine. Many prisoners of war surrendered in May after the siege of the Russian Mariupol steel plant. They are considered national heroes in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the explosion, with Ukrainian authorities calling for an international investigation.
On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it would allow the ICRC and the United Nations to visit the site of the explosion. There was no immediate comment from the UN, which said it was willing to send experts to investigate when both sides agreed.
However, the ICRC said a few hours later that – despite requesting access to the site, the injured and the dead as soon as they became aware of the attack – it had yet to receive any confirmation that access will be granted.
In a statement, it noted that all parties to the conflict have an obligation under international law to give the ICRC access to prisoners of war.
“We are ready to deploy to Olenivka,” the ICRC said, adding that it already has medical, forensic and humanitarian teams in the vicinity. “It is imperative that the ICRC be granted immediate access to the Olenivka facility and other places where the injured and dead may have been transported.”
The Olenivka facility is a few miles from the front line in Donetsk, where fighting intensified after a brief pause in July after the Russians took control of almost all of the neighboring Luhansk province.
Inmates recently released from the Olenivka camp described torture and hellish conditions. The US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget A. Brink, said on Sunday that both the attack and reports of “barbaric treatment” of POWs were unconscionable.
“We will continue to pursue accountability and give Ukraine what it needs to defend itself against Moscow’s terrible aggression,” she said. said on Twitter.