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Afghanistan: ICRC flies out 20 detainees released by Commander Massoud

22-01-1999 News Release 99/03

On 15 January, the ICRC succeeded for the first time in bringing back to Kabul, by plane, 20 detainees released from prisons in the Panjshir valley (north-eastern Afghanistan).

The detainees,   from Kabul and nearby provinces, had been held for military and/or security reasons and were released for Aid-ul-Fitri, the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast. They were flown out from Bagram airport (Shamali).

As part of the operation, the ICRC flew in 2.5 tonnes of supplies provided by the Taliban authorities for detainees still held in Panjshir. It then flew out supplies provided by Commander Massoud for detainees held by the Taliban in Kabul. Envoys from both sides were taken on board to carry out the distributions.

This is the first time that the ICRC has helped representatives of the Taliban and Commander Massoud to provide assistance for prisoners held by the other party. The exchange of envoys should make it possible to hold direct discussions on issues related to detainees.