The International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday that it will not begin its humanitarian mission along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan line of contact until the ceasefire is “fully observed.”
“The International Committee of the Red Cross will not start being involved in any humanitarian action in such situation, because that humanitarian ceasefire must be observed completely, which in turn will ensure the safety of our teams working there,” ICRC Armenia representative Zara Amatuni told Armenpress on Sunday.
One of the provisions of the humanitarian ceasefire agreement reached between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers and mediate by Russia stipulates the mediation of the ICRC in administering the exchange of bodies and captives according to its internationally-accepted criteria.
Azerbaijan continued to violate the ceasefire, which went into effect at noon local time on Saturday by continuing its attacks on Artsakh southern border and nighttime shelling of civilian targets in Stepanakert, Shushi and Martuni.
The ICRC pledged to “offer technical advice to the sides so that the dead are identified in accordance with international humanitarian law, and then facilitate the return of bodies.”
“We are in regular discussions with the sides and expressed our readiness to engage in further discussions on the nature of the involvement of the ICRC to support the return of detainees and human remains, including the logistics and security guarantees for our teams,” Martin Schuepp, the ICRC director for Eurasia, said in a statement. “It is also our hope that this agreement translates into meaningful relief for families after weeks of intense fighting.”
The ICRC head in Yerevan, Claire Meytraud on Saturday met with Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan to discuss practical steps for retrieving the remains of dead soldiers and arranging for the exchange of captives.
The Defense Ministry said that the operations will be coordinated with Artsakh authorities.
As of Sunday evening local time, there were no reports of ICRS representatives meeting with Azerbaijani officials or the military.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said Saturday that “conditions have not yet been put in place” for the start of these operations.”