Four members of the Colombian Armed Forces and 6 police officers were released late Monday night by the FARC-EP in an operation facilitated by the ICRC. The men, who had been held for 10 to 14 years, travelled by helicopter to Villavicencio Airport where their anxious families were waiting for them. The ICRC facilitated this operation through its role as a neutral intermediary and the acceptance of the parties involved. Thomas Ess, one of the ICRC delegates on board one of the helicopters, describes what happened when the men finally realized they were about to gain their freedom
Brazilian helicopters arrived in Villavicencio airport with the humanitarian commission for the release of 10 persons held by FARC-EP, some of them for over 14 years now. The International Committee of the Red Cross is facilitating this operation after agreement between the parties involved. Michael Kramer, deputy head of the ICRC Colombia delegation makes the following statement on Sunday April 1st.
On Monday April 2nd the release of 10 soldiers and police members held by the FARC-EP will start. The men have been held for up to 14 years without contact with the outside world, The International Committee of the Red Cross is facilitating this operation after agreement between the parties involved.
2010 to 2011 have seen a major series of crises which have affected ever increasing numbers of people. Demand for humanitarian assistance has reached an unprecedented level at a time when long term conflicts continue unabated, according to the ICRC's Annual Report launched in Geneva today (26th May 2011).
At over 3.5 million people, Colombia has one of the biggest displaced populations in the world. In a 'forgotten conflict' that has rumbled on for 5 decades, civilians often get caught up in the crossfire.
During two decades of internal violence in Peru in the 1980s and 90s, thousands of people died and 15,000 have been reported missing. Ten years on from the end of violence, great efforts have been made in Peru to respond to the needs of the surviving families.
In Haiti, thousands of people live in anguish, unsure whether their relatives have been buried under the rubble or alive and unable to communicate. In a city where normal communications are shattered, the ICRC is using every means available to help people get find out what happened to loved ones. Satellite phones and a special website (www.icrc.org/familylinks), are helping thousands to call abroad to reassure their families and pass on vital news. Many Haitians depend on support from relatives abroad, so getting in touch is vital. For many, those relatives are now the only ones they have.