The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it mediated between Sudan’s warring sides to facilitate the release of more than 100 prisoners of war.
Sudan has been gripped by violence since April 15 when a power struggle between the heads of the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) exploded into a vicious war that has killed thousands of people and forced millions from their homes.
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The ICRC said on Thursday a total of 125 army soldiers held by the RSF were able to return to their families before Eid al-Adha, one of the biggest holidays in the Islamic calendar. Among them were 44 wounded, the organisation said.
The group was taken from Khartoum to Wad Madani, south of the capital.
Similarly, 14 wounded were released on Monday with the help of the ICRC in the flashpoint region of Darfur, in the west of the country.
“This positive step means that families will be celebrating Eid-al Adha with their loved ones,” said Jean Christophe Sandoz, the ICRC’s head of delegation in Sudan. “We stand ready to act as a neutral intermediary for the release of detainees from all side to the conflict whenever requested.”
The ICRC maintains strict neutrality in armed conflicts with the aim of caring for victims.
It visits prisoners on both sides of conflicts and helps them stay in contact with their families. It also organises the release or exchange of prisoners at the request of parties to the conflict, as in this case.
This week, both Sudan’s army and the RSF announced “unilateral” ceasefires for Eid al-Adha, but Khartoum residents decried the declarations as meaningless amid reports of shelling, air raids and anti-aircraft fire.
Multiple ceasefire deals have failed to stick, including several brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States at suspended talks in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.