Today the ICRC with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society is helping to facilitate the safe passage of thousands civilians out of the city of Sumy in an ongoing operation. The joint operation consists of two convoys with at least 80 buses traveling out of Sumy and destined for Lubny.
Erik Tollefsen, an ICRC staff member present on the ground during the operation, said: "The dimension of this humanitarian catastrophe is just incomprehensible. We have civilians in the hundreds who are trying to get on the buses and we (ICRC) will try and escort this convoy across the lines and bring them back into some kind of safety.”
The convoy left Sumy at approximately 3.30 pm CET. The ICRC hopes that this is the first of many operations and safe passages for civilians that need urgent respite from violence and humanitarian aid.
An agreement between the parties to the conflict at a local level allowed today’s operation to take place; the ICRC reiterates that we are not a guarantor of such agreements, though we do assist in their implementation. It is up to the parties to agree to the terms of any safe passage agreement and then stick to the terms.
People in a number of cities like Mariupol essentially remain trapped with little safe way out. People are living with no food, water, heat or electricity. They, like in other cities affected by the hostilities, desperately need to be allowed safe passage out of cities, if they choose to leave, and humanitarian assistance needs to be allowed in.
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ICRC Ref: 20220315-Ukraine-Sumy-AVN
Location: Sumy, Ukraine
00:00 Residents of the city of Sumy gather next to buses to be used in a humanitarian corridor, led by the ICRC and Ukrainian Red Cross.
00:19 Soundbite Erik Tollefsen an ICRC staff member
“The dimension of this humanitarian catastrophe is just incomprehensible. We have civilians in the hundreds who are trying to get on the busses and we (ICRC) will try and escort this convoy across the lines and bring them back into some kind of safety.”
00:43 Buses to be used for the humanitarian corridor.
00:56 An ICRC vehicle leads the convoy from Sumy.