It has emerged how the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated the handover of 10 women police officers and three university professors from the Boko Haram terrorist group to the Nigerian government over the weekend.
The ICRC, acting as a neutral intermediary, was said to have been carried out at the request of the parties (Federal Government and Boko Haram) to the ongoing armed conflict.
“We are so pleased that these 13 people are free and will be able to see their families again,” Patrick Youssef, ICRC Deputy Regional Director for Africa, had announced.
However, it was learnt that the ICRC was not involved in any negotiations that led to the release of the 13 people but Boko Haram handed the 13 people over to its representatives who transported them to Nigerian authorities.
This action was similar to what the ICRC did in October 2016 and May 2017, when it transported the released “Chibok girls” to Nigerian officials.
“There are many people missing or being held against their will due to the conflict,” said Youssef.
“This creates untold trauma and suffering, including for families across the Lake Chad region who must live with the daily uncertainty and anguish of not knowing the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones. We hope that these people, too, will get to return to their families soon.”
“The ICRC remains ready to provide similar humanitarian services in the future when asked by relevant parties to the conflict,” he said.
The ICRC said in a statement that it will not be able to connect journalists with the released persons or their families, and “we ask for respect for their privacy during this time. Similarly, we will not be able to provide any additional details on the handover operation.”