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Colombia: Two air crew members released in Cauca

29-07-2012 News Release 12/159

Bogotá (ICRC) – Two civilian crew members of a commercial aircraft that crash-landed in a rural part of Argelia municipality, in the south of the department of Cauca, have been released by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP).

Juan Carlos Álvarez and Alejandro de Jesús Ocampo were handed over to a team made up of delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and members of the Francisco Isaías Cifuentes Human Rights Network.

The ICRC is currently transferring the two civilians to the city of Popayán, where they will be reunited with their families.

"We are pleased that we were able to reunite these people with their loved ones," said Jordi Raich, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia. "In this case, we were directly approached by the armed group to facilitate the handover. In our capacity as a neutral intermediary, we reiterate the ICRC's willingness to continue facilitating the release of other people being held by armed groups."

Juan Carlos Álvarez and Alejandro de Jesús Ocampo had been held by the FARC-EP since 10 July 2012, when their commercial helicopter crash-landed in a rural part of Argelia, in the south of Cauca.  

In recent weeks, the ICRC has been working in this and other parts of Cauca to mitigate the impact of the fighting and armed clashes that have driven more than 6,000 people from their homes and severely damaged civilian buildings. On 13 July, the ICRC distributed more than 14 tonnes of food to 1,500 displaced people in Argelia itself, as well as materials to repair damaged buildings.

This operation brings to 26 the number of people held by various armed groups in Colombia whose release has been facilitated by the ICRC in 2012, and a total of 1,477 since 1994. More than 750 of them have been civilians.

For further information, please contact:
Érika Tovar (in Spanish), ICRC Cali, tel: +57 313 433 66 07
María Cristina Rivera (in Spanish), ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 491 07 75
Alexis Heeb (in English, French and Spanish), ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 218 76 10