The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday classified it’s role in the released of abducted Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls, stating that at no time was it involved in negotiation for the release of the girls from Boko Haram.
A statement by Aleksandra Mosimann, the Communication Coordinator of ICRC Nigeria, lamented that, “recent media articles have suggested that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helps negotiate the release of abducted persons, which is incorrect.”
Mosimann said: “As a neutral humanitarian organisation, the ICRC cannot play such a role, which would be contrary to our principle of neutrality and is outside our mandate.”
She explained that: “In Nigeria, the ICRC has acted as neutral intermediary on three different occasions: after the release of Chibok girls on 13 October 2016 (21 Chibok girl and a baby); after the release of Chibok girls on 07 May 2017 (82 Chibok girls); and after the release on 10 February 2018 (10 women – relatives of the police officers – and three university professors from the University of Maiduguri).”
Mosimann however said: “The ICRC was not involved in negotiations leading to the release of any of these persons. We did not visit them prior to their release either. We transported them, upon the request of the parties involved.
She further explained that: “In practice, it worked like this: representatives of the government and armed opposition contacted the ICRC and asked the organisation to receive the released persons in the location indicated to us and hand them over to the Nigerian military. This ensured that the two parties did not meet face to face. It also shows trust that both place in the ICRC.”
Mosimann said: “The ICRC has received a mandate from the international community – Nigerian government included – to provide protection and assistance to people affected by armed conflict. Acting as neutral intermediary falls under this mandate.”
She said apart from Nigeria, “The ICRC has also acted as neutral intermediary in cases of released persons in Sudan and Colombia and for the return of dead bodies in Sri Lanka.
“The ICRC’s role of a neutral intermediary is widely recognised world-wide, and an indication of trust that parties to the conflict place in the ICRC.”