Senegal: ICRC visits people held by MFDC

By International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Senegal: ICRC visits people held by MFDC
Senegal: ICRC visits people held by MFDC

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 9, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited 12 people today who have been held since 3 May by the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). All 12, three of whom are women, had been involved in mine-clearance operations in Casamance, a region beset by a protracted armed conflict.

"The purely humanitarian aim of our visit was to check on the treatment these people are receiving and assess the conditions in which they are being held," said Thierry Parodi, who heads the ICRC sub-delegation in Ziguinchor. "We were able to speak with them in private, without any third parties being present. At the end of the visit, as is our custom, we shared our findings and recommendations with those in charge."

Those visited were given the opportunity to write Red Cross messages, the content of which is limited to news of a strictly personal nature, to family members. "Families have the right to be informed of the fate of their relatives," said Mr Parodi.

The ICRC delegates also delivered hygiene items, sleeping mats and blankets.

The ICRC is prepared to make repeat visits as often as is necessary. At the request of the parties concerned, it could offer its services as a neutral intermediary to facilitate the release of these people.

The ICRC has been working in Casamance since 2004 to bring protection and assistance to victims of the armed conflict. In addition to visiting detainees, the ICRC upgrades and provides support for health-care facilities, helps villagers boost their farming capacity, improves access to clean drinking water and takes emergency action for people adversely affected by violence. It carries out some of these activities in close cooperation with the Senegalese Red Cross Society.