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Niger: Chinese national and three injured Niger citizens freed under ICRC auspices

16-07-2007 News Release 07/86

Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today returned to Agadez a Chinese citizen and three injured soldiers belonging to the Niger armed forces (Forces Armées du Niger, FAN). All four had been held by the Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice (MNJ).

The MNJ had handed the four over to ICRC personnel in northern Niger. Acting as neutral intermediary, the ICRC facilitated their safe release and return to Agadez, where they were welcomed by the authorities of Niger and China.

Northern Niger has been the scene of worsening violence since the beginning of the year, when armed clashes took place between the FAN and the MNJ. Travel in the region is difficult. On 22 June, the ICRC was informed that 72 FAN personnel had been taken prisoner. Many of them were wounded and required medical and surgical treatment. On 2 July, the ICRC evacuated 30 of them, who received medical treatment before being handed over to local authorities in Arlit.

The ICRC remains concerned about those still held by the MNJ. The organization stresses that everyone who has been captured must be allowed to contact their families, who will be worried about them. The ICRC hopes to return to the region, in order to visit the prisoners it was unable to see this time and to reiterate its offer to act as neutral intermediary between the FAN and the MNJ.

The ICRC was able to conduct this latest operation thanks to logistics support from the Red Cross Society of Niger and the Irish Red Cross Society. 

  For further information, please contact:
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2271 or +41 79 217 32 17