Forty people, most of them children, who spent months separated from their families, were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday and flown home to be reunited with their families.
The 29 children, nine women, and two men were handed over to the ICRC in Gul, Ayod County and then flown on ICRC planes to Malakal. The 40 children and adults had been taken between November and December 2022 during armed hostilities in Fashoda County, Upper Nile State.
Local authorities had asked the ICRC to act as a neutral intermediary, in accordance with its humanitarian mandate, and facilitate the transfer. On Wednesday an ICRC team assessed the health of the released and confirmed that they were fit to travel. The team accompanied them during their journey and were prepared to tend to any medical needs along the way. The ICRC was not involved in the negotiations that preceded the release.
It is a great joy for us to be able to help these children, women and men return to their families,” said Pierre Dorbes, the head of the ICRC delegation in Juba. “It is very fulfilling to contribute to reuniting families that have been separated due to conflict and violence.
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral, and independent humanitarian organization with an exclusively humanitarian mandate, which enables it to act as a neutral intermediary. It has conducted similar operations related to conflict and other situations of violence in the past.
Children are particularly vulnerable in situations of armed conflict. Under international humanitarian law, children affected by hostilities are entitled to special respect and protection and must not be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).