Armies must agree before civilian evacuation, Red Cross chief says

March 24 (Reuters) - The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian armies was needed before civilians could be evacuated properly from Ukraine.

"We think we are confronted with a very complex frontline at the present moment in Ukraine which sees a lot of people trapped and people caught people in between frontlines," Red Cross chief Peter Maurer told a news conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

"It's not possible to think about access or evacuation, either in Mariupol or another place, if we don't have a solid ... and detailed agreement between the militaries on the ground."

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer attends a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia March 24, 2022. Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool via REUTERS

Street fighting and bombardments have raged in the besieged city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. Hundreds of thousands are believed to be trapped inside buildings, with no access to food, water, power or heat.

Millions of people have fled Ukraine since Russian forces entered on Feb. 24 in what Moscow called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

Maurer, who visited Ukraine last week, said he would raise the issues of prisoners of war, missing people and detained civilians in his talks in Moscow.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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