from OMAN MBIKO in Bangui, Central African Republic
BANGUI, (CAJ News) – THE 20 soldiers held by a rebel group in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been released about two months after their capture.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) secured the release of the members of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), who were seized on February 14 by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).
ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary.
“It will be a great moment of joy for the families to be reunited with their loved ones, and we are very happy to make this possible,” said Philippe Beauverd, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui.
“Neutrality is an important principle that we strongly adhere to because it allows us to play a vital humanitarian role.”
The soldiers have been freed in an area said to be difficult-to-reach in the north-east of the country.
ICRC has taken the individuals to Birao, in Vakaga province.
They are to soon arrive in the capital, Bangui, by ICRC aircraft before being handed over to national authorities.
A 20th wounded soldier who had been separated from the group for medical treatment will be transferred shortly.
The ICRC reiterated its commitment to maintaining a bilateral and confidential dialogue with all parties to the conflict with a view to fully fulfilling its mandate as a neutral and impartial intermediary.
CPC is a coalition of major rebel groups that formed an alliance to disrupt the CAR elections in 2020/21.
This after the Constitutional Court rejected the candidature of former president, François Bozizé, to contest the presidential poll.
Faustin-Archange Touadéra, the incumbent, was re-elected as president of the troubled country of 5 million people.
With half of the population starved of food, CAR has one of the highest proportions of critically food-insecure people in the world.
– CAJ News