The International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday clarified that its activities do not include negotiation for the release of hostages taken by terrorists.
The International President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, said this in Lagos against the background of the media report that the ICRC was involved in the negotiation that led to last Thursday’s release of 21 out of over 200 Chibok girls abducted by the Boko Haram sect.
Maurer said though the girls were released to the ICRC by the Boko Haram sect to hand over to the Federal Government, negotiation for release of hostages was not part of the ICRC’s activities.
The ICRC President was in Lagos on Sunday at a partnership development roundtable between the Nigerian Red Cross and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The roundtable, which sought to facilitate a collaboration between the Nigerian Red Cross and the business community to address the humanitarian crisis in the country, held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Maurer said, “With regard to the Chibok girls, really, in the interest of the issue itself, let me just be very general and explain to you what the ICRC’s role in such context is. And this is not something which relates to the Chibok girls.
“Basically, the ICRC does not negotiate these issues of hostage taking, issue of controversy between highly contrasting parties or religions. But if parties who have conflict have an agreement or are negotiating an agreement and they need the facilitation of the ICRC to execute that agreement and if it has a humanitarian impact, the ICRC is ready to play its role.
“We say the role of the good offices of the ICRC. So, we don’t negotiate; we help to execute the agreement because of our role as a neutral intermediary. It is in that role that 21 Chibok girls were handed over to us by the opposition Boko Haram armies to release to the government of Nigeria.”
Maurer disclosed that two-third of the ICRC budget for its Operation Lake Chad in Africa was channeled to Nigeria while Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic, which were also classed under the same operation, were left with one-third of the budget to share.
The ICRC President said he always had to answer the question on why Nigeria, which is the largest economy in Nigeria, with many millionaires, still depended on donations from international communities to address its humanitarian need.
He described Nigeria as a country with lot of poverty and injustice.
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