Khartoum(sudanow.info.sd)- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday facilitated the transfer of 31 Sudanese armed forces personnel to government authorities in Al Fashir, the capital city of North Darfur state, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
It said the soldiers were released and placed in the care of ICRC staff by the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement, which had been holding them. It did not say since when they were being detained by JEM.
"The ICRC served as a neutral intermediary between the Sudanese government and the Justice and Equality Movement in today's handover," said Susana Lopez, the ICRC staff member who led the transfer operation. "The ICRC assisted on purely humanitarian grounds and at the request of both parties. Our organization provided transport and other assistance for the released detainees. However, it did not take part in the negotiations that led to the handover." The press release said.
It added that prior to the transfer; ICRC staff spoke with each of the soldiers to make sure they were being handed over of their own free will. ICRC health staff was on hand to provide any medical assistance that might have been needed.
The statement said the ICRC remains committed to providing support for any similar operation in the future should the parties request it to do so.
The ICRC took part in a similar operation in Darfur earlier this year when it assisted in the handover to government authorities of two Sudanese army personnel released by another opposition faction, the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid.
The statement said in 2010, the ICRC facilitated the handover of a total of 123 released detainees in Sudan's Darfur region, which has been gripped by armed conflict since 2003.