Two Malian soldiers captured by the Alliance des Touaregs du Nord Mali pour le changement (ATNMC), led by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, were handed over to the Malian authorities in Kidal by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on 25 August.
The two soldiers were in need of medical treatment and were released on humanitarian grounds. They were handed over to an ICRC team, which had acted as a neutral intermediary to facilitate their release.
The ICRC is a neutral and independent humanitarian organization, which has a mandate to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. The organization makes periodic visits to people held in connection with the situation in northern Mali.
The organization was recently able to visit Malian soldiers who were being held prisoner, along with three gendarmes captured last July in Tessalit. The ICRC has also been able to visit people held by the Malian authorities. Through its visits, the ICRC endeavours to verify the conditions under which these people are being held and their state of health. The organization also facilitates contact between prisoners and their families.
The ICRC is responding to the humanitarian needs in this part of northern Mali. With the support of the Mali Red Cross, the organization has just finished distributing food and non-food aid to 880 families of displaced persons and returnees in the Kidal region.
The ICRC has been in Mali since 1991. It has offices in Bamako and Gao, where it works closely with the Mali Red Cross.