Khartoum/Juba/Geneva — An aircraft belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in Juba today with five South Sudanese ex-prisoners of war aboard.
They had been released by the Sudanese government earlier in the day. An ICRC delegate accompanied the five men to Juba, where they were handed over to South Sudanese authorities.
The Sudanese authorities approached the ICRC to facilitate the return home of the ex-prisoners. It agreed to serve as a neutral intermediary between the Sudanese and South Sudanese authorities.
"We are glad that these five men were able to return to their country," said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. "We will offer logistical support for such repatriations in future as well, should there be a need for it."
In accordance with its mandate under the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC visited the five prisoners during their internment to check on their treatment and conditions of detention. It visits detainees around the world to ensure that they are being treated with dignity and humanity in accordance with international humanitarian law, a set of rules designed to limit the effects of armed conflict.
In April 2012, the ICRC helped repatriate 13 Sudanese ex-prisoners of war after the South Sudanese authorities had released them, and in September it helped repatriate 19 South Sudanese prisoners of war released by Sudan.
The ICRC has been working since 1978 in Sudan, where it helps people suffering the effects of armed conflict and other situations involving violence. It opened a delegation in South Sudan in 2011 after the territory gained its independence.