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Red Cross to allow the entry of Russian humanitarian convoy into Ukraine

Thu, 21.08.2014 12:50



KYIV/Ukraine in Arabic/ Ukraine has not yet checked the lorries' cargo at the border but the drivers were told that the lorries must drive directly to the delivery point without stopping, The Russian emergencies ministry said.

They are expected to go to the besieged city of Luhansk, where there has been heavy shelling by Ukrainian troops.

There will be only one driver per lorry and a Red Cross escort at all times.

However, it is not clear when the lorries will be able to cross the border. They have been held up there for several days.

The convoy is parked near the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky. They left the Moscow region on 12 August and are said to be carrying 2,000 tonnes of aid.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that the Izvaryne checkpoint is controlled by pro-Russian rebels, who also control Luhansk.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has demanded security guarantees before it will let the convoy proceed with a Red Cross escort.

Earlier a Ukrainian security official said four lorries from the 280-strong Russian aid convoy had moved into the customs zone near Ukraine's border.

Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian border guards would check the cargo on Thursday, once Russia had provided all the necessary papers.

Smuggling fears

The Ukraine authorities remain very cautious about the convoy, concerned that it might be used to help the rebels.

Russia has repeatedly stressed that the vehicles are carrying only food and medical aid for civilians trapped in the conflict zone, as heavy fighting continues between Ukrainian government troops and the separatists.

The rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared independence from Kiev in April, following Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March.

More than 2,000 civilians and combatants have been killed since mid-April, when Ukraine sent its troops to oust the rebels.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming the rebels and sending Russian soldiers into eastern Ukraine - a claim denied by the Kremlin.

Fierce fighting in the region continued on Wednesday, with both Ukrainian government forces and the rebels claiming control of the small town of Ilovaisk in the Donetsk region.

Ilovaisk, a town of 16,000 people, lies to the south-east of the city of Donetsk and is an important railway junction.

Security forces said the town was under government control but the rebels said they had repulsed an attack.

www.bbc.com

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