A massive disinformation campaign targeting the Red Cross as it provides aid in the Ukraine conflict is putting its staff at risk, the organisation said Tuesday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also condemned "abhorrent and unacceptable" levels of violence being inflicted on civilians.

The ICRC said it had faced a barrage of accusations over its efforts to try to facilitate evacuations from embattled cities in Ukraine, and over its communications with both sides in the conflict.

"We are seeing deliberate, targeted attacks using false narratives, and disseminating this information to discredit the ICRC," spokesman Ewan Watson told journalists in Geneva.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, there had been "a huge flow of misinformation and disinformation that we see as deliberate, targeted and orchestrated across social media channels... and occasionally appearing in the mainstream media.

"This has the potential to cause real harm for our teams... on the ground and for the people we serve."

One accusation circulating on social media was that the Geneva-based body helped organise forced evacuations of Ukrainians from the besieged city of Mariupol to Russia.

Watson insisted that the ICRC "would never support any operation that would go against people's will and our principles".

Another claim was that the organisation was setting up an office in Rostov, southern Russia, to "filter Ukrainians", a charge Watson described as "absolutely false".

The ICRC acknowledged it was discussing opening an office in Rostov, but stressed that this was part of a "huge regional scale-up to deal with a massive humanitarian crisis".

Watson insisted that the neutral organisation was merely seeking to fulfil its mandate to support and help victims of conflict wherever they are.

The ICRC condemned 'abhorrent and unacceptable' levels of violence being inflicted on civilians
The ICRC condemned 'abhorrent and unacceptable' levels of violence being inflicted on civilians AFP / Sergey BOBOK

"It is not doing any of the parties' bidding: it is fulfilling our role as the International Committee of the Red Cross to come to the assistance of victims," he said.

Watson stressed that "our neutrality and our impartial humanitarian action must be respected."

"Neutrality and impartiality are not abstract concepts or lofty principles," he argued.

ICRC's neutrality is what allows it "to reach, help and, in many cases, save the lives of civilians".

As the caretaker of the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has been striving to make both sides aware of their obligations under international humanitarian law, he said. That includes the legal obligation to protect civilians and limit military strikes in civilian areas.

The organisation said it had made detailed proposals to ensure safe passage and evacuations from Mariupol, where an estimated 160,000 people are remain trapped with little food, water or medicine.

"The humanitarian crisis is deepening in Ukraine," Watson said.

"The level of death, disruption and suffering that we are witnessing being inflicted on civilians is abhorrent and unacceptable.

"Time is running out for civilians in Mariupol and in other frontline areas who have now gone for weeks with no humanitarian assistance."

Parties to the conflict are also obligated to inform the ICRC of any prisoners of war captured and to allow ICRC staff to visit them.

"We expect the parties to fulfil their obligations under the Geneva Conventions without further delay," said Watson.