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Mali: ICRC visits detainees in the north

31-07-2012 News Release 12/160

Geneva/Niamey (ICRC) – On 29 and 30 July, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited 79 Malian military personnel held by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in the Tinzaouatène area of north-eastern Mali.

In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC will also assist in the transfer of a detainee released for health reasons, who will be handed over to the Malian authorities.

ICRC staff spoke with and registered the detainees, and gave them the opportunity to contact their relatives in Bamako and elsewhere by telephone. During the visit, the ICRC also distributed 20 Red Cross messages (containing brief family news) written to detainees. In addition, 75 detainees wrote Red Cross messages which the ICRC will deliver to their families.

"By exchanging news with their families, detainees can reduce their isolation," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, who heads the ICRC's regional delegation for Mali and Niger. "They are directly renewing ties with close relatives they have been separated from for several months."

The detainees were also provided with food aid.

In accordance with the ICRC's customary working procedures, any findings or recommendations concerning the conditions of detention will be shared confidentially with the MNLA in bilateral dialogue.

In February and March, the ICRC had already visited 22 Malian military personnel held by the MNLA. "We hope to continue our regular visits to all persons held in Mali in connection with the conflict or with State security," said Mr Marti.

For further information, please contact:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 97 45 43 82
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10