18th July 2019
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ICRC facilitates release of 15 detainees held by SPLA-IO

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: 3 weeks ago

Released detainees about to board an ICRC helicopter at New Fangak, South Sudan. PHOTO: CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Michael Kifle

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has facilitated the release of 15 prisoners of war who were initially detained by the SPLA-IO in New Fangak in former Jonglei state.

The fifteen were reportedly captured and detained during past clashes between government forces and the SPLA-IO.

In June last year, President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar signed a declaration of permanent ceasefire and security arrangements.

The cessation of hostilities document includes disengagement and separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of allied troops, opening of humanitarian corridors and release of prisoners of war and political detainees.

The ICRC was identified by the parties to act as a neutral body that will faciitate the release and return of the detainees to their units.

Read relates story: https://eyeradio.org/parties-agreed-outstanding-issues-security-arrangements/

Last year, the ICRC facilitated the release of former spokesperson of Dr. Riek Machar and a South African national.

The organization said it also facilitated several release operations, including the release of 16 prisoners in October.

In a press statement issued, Thursday, the organization said the release of the 15 people this week was done based on the request of the parties.

“Our role in this week’s release was to first ensure that all detainees were handed over voluntarily and that they had the opportunity to confidentially share their concerns,” said James Reynolds, the ICRC’s head of delegation in South Sudan.

The prisoners were received in New Fangak and transported to Juba in consultations with the SPLA-IO and the SSPDF.

ICRC say that its medical staff was present at the release of the detainees to assess their health condition and make sure they were fit to travel to Juba.

The statement said three ICRC aircraft were involved in the facilitation of the released.

It also said it was not involved in the negotiations for the release of the 15 persons, as that responsibility lies with the parties.

“We offered our services to all sides of the conflict and confirmed our readiness to act as a neutral facilitator for the release of detainees as requested,” said Reynolds.

The statement also said the ICRC regularly visits detainees in the places where they are being held in order to monitor their conditions and treatment.

“The organization works in a confidential way with those in charge of detention matters to discuss possible issues of concern related to the conditions in which detainees are held and their treatment” the statement reads.

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