March 4, 2022, Ukraine. We, the undersigned humanitarian organizations, urgently call on the international community to act on preventing a humanitarian tragedy if no windows of silence with relevant security guarantees are given to evacuate civilians and to reach people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Relief actors desperately call for the swift implementation of humanitarian corridors to allow the flow of humanitarian assistance, safe evacuation of civilians and relief workers to leave endangered locations.
While aid agencies have promptly secured humanitarian aid including life-saving medicines, food and non-food items, it is impossible for relief workers and volunteers to deliver them without windows of silence and security guarantees - none of which are in place at the moment in areas of active military action and surrounding areas.
UNHCR data shows that as of March 4, more than a million people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the military escalation to Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and other countries. At the same time, many civilians, among them aid workers and medics, remain unable to move and travel long distances to seek safety internally or in neighboring countries.
Unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, which is impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction or discrimination, must be allowed and facilitated in line with International Humanitarian Law. The Fourth Geneva Convention requires States to ‘allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores’ intended for civilians and ‘the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases’.
Welcoming the outcomes of the second round of negotiations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on March 3 where the parties to the conflict reached an understanding on the need to ensure joint humanitarian corridors, we urge:
A humanitarian tragedy can be prevented.
Signatories: Médecins Du Monde, Червоний Хрест України (Red Cross Ukraine), Стабілізейшен Суппорт Сервісез (Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services), People In Need, HelpAge International, Right to Protection in partnership with HIAS, Danish Refugee Council, Start Network, New Way, REACH, Alliance2015