The Ortega regime has expelled the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which announced on December 18, 2023, the closure of its offices in Nicaragua “at the request of the Nicaraguan authorities, thus ending its humanitarian mission in the country,” according to a statement published on its website.
“The ICRC received authorization from the Nicaraguan authorities in 2018 to open a mission in the country, focused exclusively on humanitarian objectives. In January 2019, the ICRC established a permanent mission in Managua, and in March of that same year, the ICRC and the Government of Nicaragua formalized an agreement to visit detained persons,” the statement recounts.
The role of the ICRC was crucial in 2019 when the Ortega regime released more than 200 political prisoners through a questionable Amnesty Law. The Committee, along with opposition groups, reconciled a list of political prisoners. In 2021, the ICRC requested access to political prisoners, now exiled in the United States, who were held in the El Chipote prison but were denied entry.
The Committee’s work in Nicaragua “has focused in recent years on three main areas of work: supporting the Nicaraguan Red Cross to provide family reunification services and strengthen its humanitarian work for the most vulnerable; preventing and addressing humanitarian consequences of deprivation of liberty, and training activities on international humanitarian law, the legal framework applicable to tasks performed by armed forces and security forces, and international human rights law,” they noted.
The ICRC did not provide further details on its departure from Nicaragua but reiterated its willingness to resume dialogue and humanitarian action in Nicaragua from the regional delegation for Mexico and Central America.
“As it does in more than 80 countries, the work carried out by the ICRC has an exclusively humanitarian purpose and strictly adheres to the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. Through direct action and confidential bilateral dialogue with authorities, persons affected by humanitarian consequences, and other key interlocutors, the ICRC works to promote environments respectful of life and human dignity.”
Regime had already expelled the head of ICRC mission
In March 2022, the Ortega regime ordered the expulsion of Thomas Ess, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) mission.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross confirms that it received a letter notifying that the Government of Nicaragua decided to withdraw its approval of our head of mission in Nicaragua,” said the ICRC in response to CONFIDENCIAL’s inquiries at that time.
The ICRC also stated that they were unaware of the reasons behind this decision, which took them by surprise.
The abrupt withdrawal of the regime’s “approval” occurred a week after Jordi Raich, the regional head of the ICRC for Mexico and Central America, received from Ortega’s foreign minister Denis Moncada the “José de Marcoleta” order, in the rank of Grand Cross, for having maintained “respectful collaboration” and a “vision of accompaniment to the priorities of the government.”
Furthermore, in May 2023, the Ortega regime also revoked the legal status of the Nicaraguan Red Cross and confiscated its assets, now managed by the Ministry of Health (Minsa), under the name Cruz Blanca de Nicaragua.”