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Peru: ICRC maintains assistance to hostages

20-02-1997 News Release 97/07

Seventy-two of the people taken hostage on 17 December 1996, when members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) occupied the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, are still being held.

On 11 February direct preliminary discussions aimed at drawing up an agenda and procedures for subsequent talks began between representatives of the government and the MRTA group occupying the residence. The discussions are being held in an office set up by the ICRC in a building across the street. The building is marked with the ICRC emblem, which the Peruvian authorities and the MRTA have promised to respect. 

The talks are taking place in the presence of the Guarantor Commission, comprising Mgr Juan Luis Cipriani, the Bishop of Ayacucho; Mr Anthony Vincent, the Canadian ambassador in Lima; ICRC representative Michel Minnig for humanitarian questions; and Ambassador Terusuke Terada of Japan as an observer.

When the armed MRTA group occupied the Japanese ambassador's residence last December, it detained over 700 people who were attending a reception held to mark the birthday of the Emperor of Japan.

Michel Minnig, head of the ICRC delegation in Lima, was among the guests. Within hours he had arranged for the release of about 300 hostages, mainly women and elderly people. Since then another 300 have been freed in various groups, under ICRC auspices.

Since the crisis began, ICRC delegates have made daily deliveries of food and drink to the residence (over 12,000 meals, 15,000 litres of drinking water and 5,000 litres of various other drinks have been supplied to date) and have monitored sanitary c onditions. They have exchanged nearly 5,000 Red Cross messages between the hostages and their families. ICRC medical delegates check on the health of the 72 hostages every day, and keep the MRTA regularly informed of their findings so that the group can take the appropriate decisions. The ICRC also facilitates the work of independent medical specialists monitoring the hostages'state of health.