Colombia: Two women freed by the ELN
13-08-2012 News Release
Bogotá/Geneva (ICRC) – Two employees of Oleoducto Bicentenario de Colombia, Élida Parra Alfonso and Gina Paola Uribe Villamizar, who had been held by the country’s National Liberation Army (ELN) since 25 July last, were handed over on 13 August by members of the ELN’s “eastern war front” to a humanitarian commission made up of delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), representatives of the Catholic Church and the Ombudsman.
Once Ms Parra Alfonso and Ms Uribe Villamizar had been released into its care in a rural area of Arauca Department, the ICRC informed their families and the relevant authorities that they were free. After checking that the two women were in good health, the ICRC drove them to the town of Saravena, where they were reunited with their loved ones. In addition to working for Oleoducto, Ms Parra Alfonso is employed as a journalist by a local media organization.
“From the day they fell into ELN hands, we have been concerned about the fate of Elida and Gina and kept in close touch with their families,” said Daniel Littlejohn-Carrillo, head of the ICRC’s office in Saravena. “We are delighted to have been able to announce their release and help reunite them with their relatives.”
The ICRC has been taking part in this type of humanitarian operation in Colombia for decades, thanks to the confidential dialogue it maintains with the parties to the conflict and to its reputation as a trustworthy neutral intermediary.
The organization stands ready to continue using its good offices to facilitate humanitarian operations intended to help victims of the armed conflict. It also reminds the parties to the conflict of their obligation, in all circumstances, to spare civilians and all other persons protected under international humanitarian law.
The current operation brings to 28 the number of people freed in Colombia this year with the active participation of the ICRC.
For further information, please contact:
María Cristina Rivera (Spanish), ICRC Bogotá, tel. +57 311 491 07 75
Alexis Heeb (English, French, Spanish), ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10