Statement by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Geneva (ICRC)

February 24, 2022

The ICRC President Peter Maurer 's statement on the conflict in Ukraine said that the fighting in Ukraine and the escalation of the conflict could lead to death and destruction, the scale of which is frightening to think about, given its huge military capabilities.

"We are already seeing the immediate consequences for civilians, with the latest increase causing a new displacement. Residents of Donbass and elsewhere have already experienced eight years of conflict. I now fear an increase in suffering, with the potential for a huge number of casualties and the widespread destruction of civilian sites such as water and power plants, as well as mass displacement, trauma, separation of families and missing persons.

The ICRC's many years of experience have shown that miscalculations, lack of understanding and misconceptions about the potential civilian impact of major combat operations can have dire consequences.

Participants in this battle should keep in mind that:

The parties to the conflict in Ukraine must abide by international humanitarian law, including the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the first Additional Protocol of 1977, and ensure the protection of civilians and detainees. They must refrain from attacks that violate the rules of war or prohibit means and methods of warfare. The use of weapons with far-reaching effects should be avoided in populated areas.

Attacks must not be directed against civilian targets. Basic infrastructure must be spared, including water, gas and electricity systems that, for example, provide civilian homes, schools and medical facilities with vital water and electricity supplies. Attacks carried out with new technologies and cyber means must also comply with international humanitarian law.

The space for neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action must be protected so that participants in humanitarian aid such as the Ukrainian Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the wider Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement can access civilians.

The ICRC's priority is to help those in need. This week we delivered 3,000 liters of drinking water to the hospital in Dokuchaevsk and 7,000 liters to the municipality of Donetsk. Recent work also includes visits to places of detention to improve hygiene and nutrition. If the security situation allows, our teams, now, in Ukraine will continue their work to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities with medicines and equipment and support families with food and hygiene items. We will continue our bilateral and confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict to protect those affected by the fighting.

We call on all states to do everything in their power and influence to avoid an escalation of the conflict, the costs and consequences of which for the civilian population exceed the capacity for protection and assistance.

In recent years, the ICRC has seen many conflicts begin and escalate, but too few end, and in each of them the civilian population has its consequences. "