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KIEV, August 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Saturday he was considering the possibility of sending a humanitarian mission to the eastern city of Luhansk.
Poroshenko had discussed this issue with Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and “other international partners”, the presidential press service said after his telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“We are ready to accept humanitarian aid but if this is an international mission, without military support, which comes only through the border checkpoints controlled by Ukrainian border guards, and is escorted by the Ukrainian military to ensure the security of the mission,” the president said.
The Luhansk city council said the main life-supporting infrastructure facilities were not operating: there has been no electricity and water for seven days, land lines and cell phones are out of action. Most shops are closed, fuel reserves have come to an end and no new supplies are coming. Armed fighting continues in the city.
Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for setting up a humanitarian mission in the south-east of Ukraine in coordination with the relevant international organisations.
The ICRC supported Lavrov’s proposal to deliver humanitarian aid to southeast Ukraine.
“In the current situation, any humanitarian initiative is welcome to alleviate the suffering of civilians”, Michelle Masson, the head of the ICRC delegation to Kiev, said on Friday.
Swiss President and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter on Saturday welcomed the ICRC announcement that it would step up activities for the affected population in south-eastern Ukrainian regions and deploy additional teams there.
In a telephone conversation with ICRC President Peter Maurer, Burkhalter underlined that the OSCE, while not being a humanitarian organisation, is willing to support and facilitate humanitarian efforts by Ukraine, the ICRC and other humanitarian agencies to the extent possible.
In a telephone call on Saturday, Merkel, Poroshenko and U.S. President Barack Obama said that a humanitarian convoy for eastern Ukraine should be organised under the ICRC auspices only and with the consent of the Ukrainian government.
According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, almost 850,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the start of Kiev’s military operation in the southeast of the country’s, with 730,000 of them finding shelter in Russia.
Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin described the situation in the south-east of Ukraine, especially in the Donetsk and Luhank regions, as a humanitarian catastrophe.
“By any human measure, the situation in the East, especially in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, is catastrophic,” he said said an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council on August 6. “The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has officially recognised the fact of an armed conflict in the East of Ukraine.