Emergency Statement of the Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine (April 16, 2022)

Emergency Statement of the Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine (April 16, 2022)

During April 16, 2022, there was a sharp increase in the intensity of radio communications by nationalist militants and foreign mercenaries blocked in Mariupol at Azovstal steel plant. At the same time, the content of radio intercepts (367 were received in the past 24 hours alone) shows that the resisting fighters are in a desperate situation, practically without food and water. They insist that the official authorities in Kiev allow them to lay down their arms and surrender. However, the Ukrainian authorities categorically forbid this and threaten to carry out further executions under "wartime" conditions. 

In accordance with persistent humanitarian initiatives by France, Germany and Turkey, and for purely humanitarian purposes, the Russian Armed Forces have repeatedly offered the militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Mariupol to Kiev-controlled territory. To this end, since March 21, 2022, a humanitarian corridor has been opened daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; from April 5, 2022, such corridors open daily, but around the clock. 

The Russian side opened humanitarian corridors on a daily basis and ensured all requirements to observe the ceasefire in the Mariupol direction.

The Ukrainian side has never confirmed the security guarantees of the humanitarian corridor in question and continues to deliberately obstruct the implementation of these humanitarian initiatives.

Representatives of foreign embassies, relevant UN structures, the OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organisations were duly informed about planned humanitarian operations through all available information resources, including the media.

None of these organisations, with the exception of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has ever responded to our persistent calls for the opening of humanitarian corridors for the fighters to leave.

Thanks to the measures taken by the Russian Federation, without the participation of the Ukrainian side or international organisations, it was possible to evacuate from Mariupol more than 168,000 civilians (139,678 of them to the Russian Federation), including 237 representatives of foreign countries. 

In addition, 1,464 Ukrainian servicemen laid down their arms and surrendered. They are not subjected to violence or psychological pressure. Everyone is given the opportunity to contact relatives. Wounded prisoners of war are provided with timely, qualified medical care.

Taking into account the catastrophic situation at Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and being guided by purely humane principles, the Russian Armed Forces suggest that the militants of the nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries stop any hostilities and lay down their arms from 06:00 (Moscow time) on April 17. All those who lay down their arms are guaranteed life.

For the practical implementation of the activities of this next humanitarian operation, the following algorithm of action is envisaged:

from 05:00 (Moscow time), continuous communication is established between the Russian and Ukrainian sides for mutual exchange of information;

from 05:30 (Moscow time), fighters of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries, on the one hand, and the Russian Armed Forces, together with military formations of the Donetsk People's Republic, on the other, have declared a ceasefire and guaranteed its strict observance;

actual start of the ceasefire at 06:00 (Moscow time) is indicated by both sides raising flags: red on the Russian side and white on the Ukrainian side all around the perimeter of Azovstal. In addition, the fact that the parties are ready to introduce the ceasefire has been confirmed through all channels of communication;

from 06:00 to 13:00 (Moscow time) - withdrawal of all Ukrainian armed units and foreign mercenaries, without any weapons or ammunition.

Once again, we call on the official authorities in Kiev to show prudence and give appropriate instructions to the militants to stop their pointless resistance and withdraw from the hotbed of resistance. But realising that they will not receive such orders and commands from the Kiev authorities, we urge them to take this decision themselves and to lay down their arms. 

Furthermore, we appeal to all AFU servicemen and foreign mercenaries - with the cynical attitude of the Kiev authorities, such an unenviable fate awaits all of you. With this in mind, do not test your fate like the Mariupol tragedy, but make the only right decision to cease hostilities and lay down your arms now, wherever your "handlers" force you to fight for the ideas of Nazism. However, the Russian Federation guarantees each of you the preservation of your lives and the observance of all norms of the Geneva Convention for the treatment of prisoners of war, as has already happened to your comrades who previously surrendered in Mariupol. 

This emergency declaration is to be published immediately and reported to the United Nations, the OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organisations through all available information resources, including the media.

In addition, this emergency statement will be broadcast continuously throughout the night to Ukrainian formations at Azovstal on all radio channels at 30-minute intervals.

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