On 26 and 27 March the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited 35 Malian soldiers and two police officers being held by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga’s armed group in north-eastern Mali.
Four soldiers in need of medical care were subsequently evacuated to Kidal by the ICRC, which had already evacuated seven other soldiers wounded in the clashes of 20 March.
The visit took place with the agreement of the parties involved. The ICRC assessed the health of the detainees, interviewed them without witnesses, and offered them the chance to speak to their families by telephone. The organization also left behind medical supplies to ensure that those wounded in the clashes receive treatment.
Together with the Mali Red Cross, the ICRC distributed food and other aid to 3,000 people who had been displaced near Tinzaouatène, on the border with Algeria.
The ICRC will closely monitor the soldiers who are still being held by the armed group, particularly as some of them require medical care.
The organization remains extremely concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the use of anti-vehicle mines in the region.
The ICRC has had a permanent presence in Mali since 1991 (with offices in Bamako and Gao) and works closely with the Mali Red Cross.