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Red Cross president visiting Ukraine

Peter Maurer met Iryna Herashchenko.

Red Cross president visiting Ukraine
Peter Maurer
Photo: Photo: EPA / UPG

On Monday, 6 March, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer arrived in Ukraine on a five-day visit.

"Arrived in Ukraine for a visit. For nearly three years, people in the east have lived in the shadow of war, and hostilities again on the rise," Maurer tweeted.

As reported on the official website of the Ukrainian parliament, Maurer is planned to meet the first deputy speaker and Ukraine's representative in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group, Iryna Herashchenko.

The meetings will focus on discussing the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, as well as the impact of escalation on the civilian population.

President Petro Poroshenko in January asked Maurer to assist in facilitating the release of Ukrainian hostages kept in Donbas, Crimea and in prisons in Russia.

After the meeting with Mauer, Herashchenko thanked him in a Facebook post for the ICRC support for citizens and Donbas territories affected by the conflict.

"In the framework of the humanitarian subgroup in Minsk, Ukraine has long insisted on raising the ICRC profile in search for missing persons and the release of hostages. There is no explanation of the fact that while Ukrainian prisons are open to the ICRC and other international missions, the ICRC has no access to any of the prisons in the occupied territories and in Russia, where there Ukrainian political prisoners are held," Herashchenko said.

She recalled that according to SBU lists, 483 Ukrainians remained missing and 113 people are held as hostages in the occupied territories of Donbas. Of the people on this list, the whereabouts of only 58 individuals are known.

Herashchenko expressed strong support for the ICRC initiative to establish a mechanism for the search of missing persons and the creation of additional mechanisms and instruments to protect critical infrastructure in the combat zone.

"Ukraine believes that humanitarian affairs are always a priority and is ready to address them," Herashchenko said.

Ukraine earlier suggested the ICRC could get involved in the identification of bodies of soldiers killed in Donbas.

The Red Cross has announced plans to mobilize over 60m dollars in humanitarian aid for Ukraine in 2017.