By Tayo Joseph Lagos
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated the handover — from the armed opposition to the Nigerian military — of 10 women police officers and three university professors.
This operation in north-east Nigeria, with the ICRC acting as a neutral intermediary, was carried out at the request of the parties to the ongoing armed conflict.
“We are so pleased that these 13 people are free and will be able to see their families again,” said Patrick Youssef, deputy regional director for Africa.
The ICRC was not involved in any negotiations that led to the handover of the 13 people. The armed opposition handed the 13 people over to ICRC representatives who transported them to Nigerian authorities. This action was similar to what the ICRC did in October 2016 and May 2017, when we transported the released “Chibok girls” to Nigerian officials.
“There are many people missing or being held against their will due to the conflict,” said Mr. Youssef. “This creates untold trauma and suffering, including for families across the Lake Chad region who must live with the daily uncertainty and anguish of not knowing the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones. We hope that these people, too, will get to return to their families soon.”
The ICRC remains ready to provide similar humanitarian services in the future when asked by relevant parties to the conflict.
The ICRC will not be able to connect journalists with the released persons or their families, and we ask for respect for their privacy during this time. Similarly, we will not be able to provide any additional details on the handover operation.