Global Red Cross suspends Belarus chapter after its chief boasted of bringing in Ukrainian kids

TALLINN, Estonia — The International Red Cross on Friday suspended the Belarusian chapter after its chief stirred worldwide outrage for boasting that it was actively ferrying Ukrainian kids from Russian-controlled areas to Belarus.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies halted the membership of the Belarus department after it refused to oust its chief Dzmitry Shautsou. He is accused of getting breached the Red Cross’ much-vaunted and much-defended requirements of neutrality and integrity. The board of IFRC had given the Belarus Red Cross till Nov. 30 to dismiss him, and mentioned it could droop the department if it didn’t.

“The suspension means that the Belarus Red Cross loses its rights as a member of the IFRC,” the Geneva-based worldwide group mentioned in an announcement Friday. “Any new funding to the Belarus Red Cross will also be suspended.”

Shautsou, in feedback to the state Belta information company, referred to as the choice to droop the Belarus Red Cross from the IFRC “absolutely politicized.” He mentioned he went to the occupied areas in japanese Ukraine “to prove that children that undergo health improvement in Belarus return home safely.”

Last yr, the Belarus Red Cross acquired practically 1.7 million Swiss francs ($1.9 million) from the the IFRC for providers like HIV prevention, assist for migrants close to the border with Poland, “clown therapy” and assist for individuals fleeing neighboring Ukraine. This yr, the outlay has been greater than 1 million francs.

Shautsou was seen publicly carrying navy fatigues with the “Z” insignia of Russian forces, and he claimed publicly that he favored deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus.

He additionally instructed Belarusian tv that the Belarus Red Cross was actively concerned in bringing Ukrainian kids to Belarus for “health improvement” functions.

Belarus has been Moscow’s closest ally because the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022, when its authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko allowed the Kremlin to ship troops and weapons into Ukraine from Belarus. Russia has additionally deployed tactical nuclear weapons there.

More than 2,400 Ukrainian kids aged 6-17 have been dropped at Belarus from 4 Ukrainian areas which were partially occupied by Russian forces, in response to a latest examine by Yale University. The Belarusian opposition is searching for a global probe into the hassle and says Lukashenko and his officers must be held accountable for it.

The Belarus Red Cross has maintained that it didn’t participate within the removing of the youngsters from Ukraine, and that the transfers had been organized by a Belarusian charity based by state-backed Paralympic athlete Alexei Talai. Shautsou, nevertheless, in a report aired by the state TV channel Belarus 1 was seen visiting the occupied Ukrainian area of Luhansk and mentioned that his group took “an active part” within the transfers.

An inside IFRC probe discovered that the Belarus Red Cross mentioned Shautsou was “found to be solely responsible for the allegations.” It additionally decided that one other group was accountable for transferring kids from Russian-occupied components of Ukraine, and the Belarus Red Cross’ involvement was solely inside Belarus. It didn’t specify the opposite group.

The IFRC spells the title of the secretary-general of Belarus Red Cross as Dmitry Shevtsov.

The Belarus Red Cross instructed The Associated Press on Friday that Shautsou will proceed to run the group and that its board gathered on Friday to debate financials and plans for 2024 “with the current situation taken into account.”

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