Nepal: The long walk home – 62 armed forces and security personnel released under ICRC auspices
15-09-2005 News Release 05/51
Geneva/Kathmandu (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today facilitated the release and safe return of 60 Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) personnel held by the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoists (CPN-M).
The 60 men had been captured during an attack on the RNA base camp in Pili (Kalikot district) in early August. On the same day, but at the other end of the country, one policeman and one RNA soldier were handed over to the ICRC in Udayapur district. The men had reportedly been captured on 16 and 28 August 2005 in two different incidents in the vicinity of Lahan (Siraha district). The ICRC handed over the released detainees to the authorities.
The ICRC was not involved in negotiating the release of the personnel, but intervened in its capacity of neutral intermediary accepted by both parties to the conflict to facilitate the safe return of these men once the Maoists (CPN-M) had decided to release them. A confidential bilateral dialogue before the releases was key to ensuring that both parties agreed to create a safe environment for the duration of these operations.
The release of the 60 detainees took place in a remote rural area of the eastern part of Jajarkot district, in mid-western Nepal. This meant a long and complicated trip for ICRC delegates, which started on 9 September and included a two-day trek to reach the detainees. Before starting on the long walk home with them, the team of six delegates (including one medical staff) spoke in private with all the detainees to ensure that they were returning of their own free will.
In the past, the ICRC was instrumental in the release of 25 policemen in October 2001 and of 76 members of the Nepal Police, the Royal Nepalese Army and the civil service in 2004. In 2005, the ICRC facilitated the release and safe return of 29 government officials and armed forces and security personnel in four different events, the last one bei ng on 18 July 2005 when 18 such personnel were released in Dhanusa district.
The ICRC has been working with the parties to the conflict in Nepal since 1998 as an impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian organization whose purpose is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of conflict and internal violence. The ICRC strives to visit detainees held by both parties to the conflict and stands ready to facilitate releases, should the parties so request it.
For further information, please contact:
Giuseppe Pogliari, ICRC Kathmandu, tel. ++ 977 1 44 82 285 – 98510 346 38
Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 41 22 730 24 26 or ++41 79 217 32 64