More prisoners of war held by Russia and Ukraine have been visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in recent weeks, allowing delegates to check on their condition and treatment and share much-awaited news with their families. Our teams were also able to provide items such as books, personal hygiene items, blankets, and warm clothes.
“These visits are an important step forward in preserving humanity amidst the brutality of the international armed conflict,” said ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric. “We are able to check how prisoners of war are being treated and to make sure families receive updates. My expectation is that these visits lead to more regular access to all prisoners of war.”
The ICRC last week carried out one two-day visit to Ukrainian prisoners of war, with another happening this week. During the same period, visits were also carried out to Russian prisoners of war, with more visits planned by the end of the month.
ICRC teams are reaching out to families of prisoners of war to share updates from their loved ones. Most updates are short notes of love and personal news. Some ask family members not to worry. Others ask them for cigarettes, socks, and sweets. All these messages are a lifeline for anguished relatives.
All prisoners of war are entitled to receive regular visits from delegates of the ICRC under the Third Geneva Convention. While the recent visits are important progress, the ICRC must be granted unimpeded access to see all prisoners of war repeatedly and in private, wherever they are held.