The International Committee of the Red Cross demanded access to prisoners of war and detained civilians in Ukraine on Friday.
The organization has visited prisoners of war on both sides of the conflict and has been able "to inform hundreds of families about their loved ones," the Red Cross said in a statement. "Many more families need answers; the ICRC must have full access to POWs and civilian internees, wherever they are held, in order to provide those answers."
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"The nations that agreed to the Geneva Conventions committed to protecting the lives and dignity of people deprived of their liberty during armed conflict. All sides in conflict benefit from ICRC's visits to POWs and civilian internees, a key humanitarian activity and legal obligation," said ICRC President Peter Maurer.
The organization gathered the personal information of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who had been in the Azovstal steel plant for weeks until surrendering days ago, according to the Associated Press. More than 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered since Monday, Russian authorities said.
The ICRC looks to meet with prisoners of war to ensure they are treated properly and given access to food, water, and medical care. They also cannot be tortured, intimidated, or exposed to violence.
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The organization has previously been unable to reach civilians in need in the city of Mariupol, where the steel plant is located. The town, which has been besieged for weeks, holds strategic significance for the Russians because it would provide them with a land bridge from the Crimean Peninsula, which they annexed nearly a decade ago, and the Donbas region.