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Libya: five released detainees flown home

30-04-2011 News Release 11/102

Benghazi / Tripoli / Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today flew five Libyan nationals from Benghazi to Tripoli to be reunited with their families. The five, all civilians, were placed in the ICRC's care in Benghazi by the National Transitional Council following its decision to release them.

"They have no family in Benghazi so it was important to facilitate their return to their families in Tripoli", said Samuel Emonet, the delegate in charge of the ICRC's detainee-welfare activities in the country. "Acting as a neutral intermediary, we organized their transfer in conjunction with the authorities in Benghazi and in Tripoli. Prior to their departure, we made sure that each of the five actually wished to go to Tripoli."

The ICRC has since early March been visiting detainees held by the Libyan armed opposition in Benghazi. So far, delegates have talked with around 200 detainees to assess their conditions of detention and their treatment, and to help restore contact with their families.

"We hope that the ICRC in Tripoli will soon be able to start visiting detainees in the western part of the country," Mr. Emonet added.

This was the first operation the organization had carried out by air since the crisis in Libya began over two months ago. The aircraft, which is based in Malta, should be a considerable asset to the ICRC's humanitarian work as a means of rapid travel in Libya and neighbouring countries.

The ICRC stands ready to continue acting as a neutral intermediary between the National Transitional Council and the Libyan government to provide humanitarian services such as transferring released detainees and delivering emergency aid for civilians across frontlines.

For further information, please contact:
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Benghazi, tel. +870 772 390 124
Anna Nelson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 3264