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Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol after weeks of defiance have become prisoners of war in Russian-held areas, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed this week.
The ICRC has registered hundreds of POWs, meaning the organization has personal details of every service member.
The POWs are being held in a separatist-controlled region of eastern Ukraine, the organization said.
“The registration process facilitated by the ICRC involves the individual filling out a form with personal information such as name, date of birth and next of kin,” a Red Cross statement said on Thursday. “This information allows the ICRC to find those captured and help them stay in touch with their families.
Registration began on Tuesday, the Red Cross said, adding that work continued until Thursday.
AZOVSTAL FIGHTERS TO FACE RUSSIAN INTERROGATION, COURT
The Red Cross said the 1949 Geneva Conventions require the organization to have immediate access to prisoners of war “in all places where they are held. The ICRC must be allowed to interview prisoners of war without witnesses, and the duration and frequency of such visits shall not be unduly limited.”
RUSSIAN-BACKED SEPARATISTS SAY 900 UKRAINIAN TROOPS WENT TO STEEL PLANT, DISPUTE EARLIER NUMBERS
Russia has said nearly 1,000 of the last defenders locked inside the factory – Mariupol’s last pocket of resistance – had surrendered.
Ukraine’s military made no mention of Mariupol during its morning briefing on Thursday, saying only that Russian forces were still continuing their offensive on various sections of the eastern front, but were being successfully repelled.
UKRAINE REACHES AGREEMENT TO EVACUATE ABOUT 50 INJURED FIGHTERS FROM MARIUPOL AZOVSTAL PLANT
Mixed reports have emerged regarding the number of Ukrainian personnel who were evacuated from the plant upon its surrender, with early estimates putting the figure at between a few hundred and 1,000, the Ukrainian military said.
Ukrainian fighters who emerged from the crumbling steelworks of Azovstal after being ordered by their military to abandon the last bastion of resistance in the now razed port city face an uncertain fate. The Russians reportedly took some of them to a former penal colony in territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.