Two German citizens held by the National Liberation Army (ELN) since November 2012 were released today in a rural part of the Colombian department of Norte de Santander.
The civilians were handed over to a humanitarian team made up of delegates of the ICRC and two members of a committee set up to facilitate dialogue with the armed group.
“We’re glad that the two men have been freed and will soon be reunited with their families,” said Jordi Raich, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia. “It’s gratifying to be of service in this kind of operation. As an impartial, neutral and independent intermediary between all the parties to the conflict, the ICRC is always keen to help relieve the suffering of people who have been deprived of liberty.”
A civilian helicopter bearing the ICRC emblem took the Germans to Aguas Claras airport in Ocaña, Norte de Santander, where they were handed over to officials from the German embassy in Colombia and representatives of the Colombian government. The Colombian Red Cross provided logistical and medical support for the operation.
In addition to this latest operation, since 1994 the ICRC has facilitated the release of more than 1,500 people being held by various armed groups in Colombia. So far in 2013, the ICRC has acted as an intermediary in the handover of 10 people.
The ICRC stands ready to do what it can to help relieve the suffering of people affected by the armed conflict in Colombia.