ICRC slams Ukraine claims as 'systematic campaign of misinformation'
Ukraine’s deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk accuses the ICRC of being motivated by money and "working for the enemy."
After the alleged International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) forced evacuations of residents from Mariupol to Russia, Ukraine’s deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk has accused the organization of "working for the enemy," hinting at its financial interest rather than its intention of supporting Ukrainians.
Vereshchuk's accusations come following Kiev's claims that Russia was forcefully evacuating Ukrainians.
“Ukraine never agreed to a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Russia. That’s obvious. They are occupiers. They are enemies. Not peacemakers. The Red Cross had no right to help evacuate people there,” she claimed in an interview with Ukraine’s Strana news outlet.
While the ICRC has denied carrying out forced evacuations and stressed its role as a neutral humanitarian organization that provides relief, rather than taking sides in conflicts, Vereshchuk claimed that the ICRC was “de facto working on the side of the enemy,” adding that it had been financially motivated to do so.
“That is not my suspicion – I know it for sure. Nobody hid the fact that the Red Cross received donations from Russia,” she said.
The ICRC is funded by voluntary donations, with over 80% of them coming from donor states that are party to the Geneva Conventions. The organization says it “only accepts funds from those who respect the ICRC’s independence and impartiality of action.”
On its part, the International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned what it calls a "widespread and systematic campaign of misinformation" about its work in Ukraine.
These are strong words from the famously neutral organization and reflect deep concern that its humanitarian operations worldwide could be undermined by what appears to be a coordinated strategy designed to destroy trust.
Why does our neutrality matter?— ICRC (@ICRC) March 29, 2022
Because it saves lives. https://t.co/o65ZWflXPz
"It is a targeted deliberate campaign, discrediting the ICRC and its work. It's unacceptable," said the Organization's Director-General, Robert Mardini.
For at least two weeks, across multiple social media platforms, criticism and false accusations against the ICRC have been appearing, in Ukrainian and in Russian. One of the most damaging is the claim that the organization has supported "forced evacuations" of Ukrainian citizens across the border into Russia.
In an earlier response to Kiev's call, the ICRC told Reuters on Sunday that it had no first-hand information on claims of forced evacuations from Ukraine to Russia and did not aid any such operations. It stated that it intended to create an office in Rostov-on-Don to better serve individuals in need.
Over the past few days, false information about us has been circulating online.— ICRC (@ICRC) March 26, 2022
This could put our Red Cross staff, volunteers, and the people we seek to help at risk.
So we’re addressing this head on. These are the facts 👇
The ICRC clarified that its priority "is to reach victims of armed conflict, wherever they are, in order to assist them."
The organization made the decision to create an office in the city after its president, Peter Maurer, visited Russia on March 23 and 24.
Mikhail Radutskiy, leader of Ukraine's parliament's public health committee, stated in an open letter to the ICRC on March 26 that his body "strongly opposes" the creation of the ICRC's office in Rostov-on-Don.
“The Committee calls on the International Committee of the Red Cross not to legitimize ‘humanitarian corridors’ on the territory of the Russian Federation and not to support the abduction and forced deportation of Ukrainians. We call on you to change your decision on this issue,” the letter read.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Kiev has constantly resisted the evacuation of Ukrainians to Russia and has "forcibly pushed" migrants to the west.
The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) reported that more than 300 people were evacuated from Mariupol from the Donetsk People's Republic and that 90 people of Russian and Moldovan nationalities, as well as from the Ukrainian Kherson region, were evacuated on Sunday.