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Democratic Republic of the Congo: ICRC facilitates release of two soldiers

18-09-2009 News Release 09/187

Geneva/Kinshasa (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today facilitated the release and transfer of two soldiers of the Congolese army who had been detained by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in North Kivu.

Both sides had requested that the ICRC organize the operation in its capacity as a neutral intermediary. The ICRC spoke with each of the two soldiers in private to make sure they were returning of their own free will. Both were placed in the care of the ICRC by the FDLR in a remote area of Walikale territory and taken by helicopter to Goma, the capital of North Kivu, where they were handed over to senior army officers.

" The agreement reached by the two parties is positive, especially given the increased intensity of the violence between them in recent months, " said Franz Rauchenstein, the ICRC's head of delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. " Nonetheless, in conflict-affected areas in the north-eastern part of the country, there is still a long way to go to ensure full respect for civilians and other persons protected by international humanitarian law. "

The Kivu region remains tense as military operations pitting the Congolese armed forces against the FDLR continue. These operations are taking place against the backdrop of a deteriorating humanitarian situation, resulting in population displacement and violations of the rules protecting civilians and their property.

The ICRC has been working in the country since 1978 in close cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to protect and assist victims of armed conflict. Since hostilities resumed in North Kivu in August 2008, the ICRC has been stepping up its humanitarian response to assist those adversely affected.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Inah Kaloga, ICRC Kinshasa, tel. +243 81 700 85 36
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2458 or +41 79 217 3224
 

To learn more about the ICRC operations in the DRC, see the latest

  operational update.