The International Committee of the Red Cross has not received confirmation that it will be allowed to visit the detention center where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners were killed in an explosion, the organization said in a statement on Sunday.
At least 50 prisoners were killed and dozens wounded in a blast late Thursday in the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk Province. Many were prisoners of war who surrendered in May after the Russian siege of the Mariupol steelworks. They are considered national heroes in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the explosion, with Ukrainian authorities calling for an international investigation.
On Sunday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it would allow the I.C.R.C. and the United Nations to visit the blast site.
However, the I.C.R.C. said hours later that — despite having requested access to the site, the wounded and the dead as soon as it learned of the attack — it still had not yet received any confirmation that access would be granted.
It noted in a statement that all parties to the conflict have an obligation under international law to give the I.C.R.C. access to prisoners of war.
“We are ready to deploy to Olenivka,” the I.C.R.C. said, adding that it already had medical, forensic and humanitarian teams in the vicinity. “It is imperative that the I.C.R.C. be granted immediate access to the Olenivka facility, and other places where the wounded and dead might have been transferred.”
The Olenivka facility is a few miles from the front line in Donetsk, where fighting has intensified following a brief pause in July after the Russians gained control over nearly all of the neighboring Luhansk Province.
Prisoners recently released from the Olenivka camp have described torture and hellish conditions. The American ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget A. Brink, said Sunday that both the attack and reports of “barbaric treatment” of P.O.W.s were unconscionable.
“We will continue to pursue accountability and give Ukraine what it needs to defend itself against Moscow’s horrific aggression,” she said on Twitter.
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