Euromaidan SOS Statement on the inadmissibility of international “approval” of the forced deportation of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation

Euromaidan SOS has recently delivered its public statement strongly condemning the forced deportation of the Ukrainian citizens from Mariupol, Kherson and other temporarily occupied areas to the Russian territory in blatant violation of international humanitarian law. Specifically, we remind that both deportation and forcible transfer of population are explicitly outlawed under the Article 8 of the Rome Statute as a war crime.  Nevertheless, according to the Russian Red Cross’ (RRC) own online report, which was later deleted from its website, RRC assisted in the forced deportation of at least 60.000 of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation. This means that the Russian Red Cross involved in this illegal activity has been acting in breach of the existing treaty and customary prohibitions in international humanitarian law. 

On March 21, 2022, the office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Moscow signed a partnership agreement with the Russian Red Cross (RRC) to address the issues of displaced persons from different regions of Ukraine. In this statement the UNHCR praised the efforts of RRC in coordinating humanitarian assistance, creating accommodation centers and providing relief for displaced individuals in Kursk, Belgorod, Volgograd, and Lipetsk.

The UNHCR failed to address the essentially violent and coercive nature of the enforced deportations as well as the fact that Ukrainian citizens deported to the Russian Federation continuously face abuse, threats and ill-treatment. A good indication of the real nature of this quasi-humanitarian work of RRC is ongoing protests of the Ukrainian citizens against this practice of enforced displacement. Given the outrageous war crimes committed against Ukrainian civilian population by the Russian troops as well as immediate repressions against civilians within the temporarily occupied territories by Russia including enforced disappearances and torture, it is as a minimum naïve to suggest that the territory of the Russian Federation could serve as a “safe harbor” for any Ukrainian citizen. 

We strongly condemn the forceful deportations of Ukrainian citizens to the Russian and/or Russia-controlled territories as a war crime committed by the Russian troops in cooperation with the Russian Red Cross. Such deportations can trigger irreparable consequences and must be stopped now instead of being supported by international humanitarian agencies. Instead, international pressure should be put on the Russian side to allow for humanitarian corridors to ensure the passage of Ukrainian civilians into safe zones within Ukraine. 

Euromaidan SOS calls on the UNHCR, ICRC and the UN OCHA to stop legitimizing unlawfully forced deportations of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation via signing any “partnership” agreements with the aggressor state and its controlled agencies like the Russian Red Cross. International organizations should perform as guardians of international law and not as aides in its violation. 

Euromaidan SOS demands an independent and impartial international investigation of all cases of the deportation of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation and calls on the active involvement of international organizations in this matter. 

Euromaidan SOS demands from the Russian Federation to provide Ukraine with full lists of all persons deported to the Russian Federation from the Ukrainian territories and to immediately allow these persons to leave places of detention and travel to the safe neutral states. We expect international organizations to actively facilitate swift and safe passage of the deported Ukrainians to the safe neutral states. 

Finally, we are convinced that if ICRC is to open its office in the territory of the Russian Federation, this should be done independently from the local RRC and the work of ICRC should not be compromised via any partnerships with RRC. We believe that the only possible purpose for opening such an office by ICRC should be the protection of the illegally deported Ukrainian civilians, prevention of further transfers of the Ukrainian civilians to the remote areas of the Russian Federation as well as effective assistance to the deported Ukrainians in retrieving their confiscated Ukrainian documents and in returning safely to Ukraine.

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