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Sudan: ICRC President asks SPLM/A leader to make special gesture

22-03-1999 News Release 99/13

Geneva (ICRC) - On 22 March 1999 the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr Cornelio Sommaruga, met the leader of the Sudan Peoples'Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Dr John Garang, at ICRC headquarters in Geneva.

Their discussions focused on the ICRC's activities in Sudan and on the incident that occurred on 18 February in the Bentiu region. The ICRC President asked Dr Garang to make a special gesture by freeing the three Sudanese government officials who remain in captivity following the incident and to facilitate the return of a Sudanese Red Crescent employee whose release had previously been announced by the SPLM/A.

Two ICRC delegates and two Sudanese Red Crescent employees were conducting a survey to assess humanitarian needs north of Bentiu. They were accompanied by three government officials when they were captured by the SPLM/A. The two delegates were handed over to the ICRC on 12 March. However, one of the Red Crescent employees and the three government officials are still being held by the SPLM/A in southern Sudan.

The ICRC resumed its activities in Sudan in June 1998 after a 19-month interruption. Some 100 expatriates, working throughout the country, provide protection and assistance for the civilian population, evacuate and care for the wounded, visit detainees and develop programmes in cooperation with the Sudanese Red Crescent.

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