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Ecuador/Peru: aftermath of border dispute

22-03-1995 News Release 12

Since the outbreak last January of the border dispute between Ecuador and Peru, the ICRC has been playing an active role on both sides. On 1 March the authorities of the two countries released two Ecuadorian prisoners of war held in Peru and seven Peruvian POWs interned in Ecuador. ICRC delegates had talks in private with each of the prisoners, in accordance with the institution's customary working procedures, and the men were then repatriated under the ICRC's auspices. So far delegates have had private interviews with about 30 civilian internees on both sides. Not all of them have been released to date.

Working with the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Red Cross, the ICRC has assessed the needs of about 10,000 displaced people on either side of the border. Emergency aid and medicines have been supplied for the displaced in Ecuador.

The hostilities came to an end with the signing of a cease-fire agreement in Montevideo on

28 February, under the auspices of the four guarantor nations of the Rio Protocol of 1942. On 15 March the ICRC handed over to the warring parties a memorandum and a plan of action aimed at resolving outstanding humanitarian issues - mainly problems concerning civilian internees and persons reported missing, and the question of mortal remains. A second memorandum, specifically relating to landmines, was attached to the document,

reminding the parties of the relevant provisions of international law and requesting that they take practical measures such as the marking of minefields or mined areas and the neutralization of active mines.

When the conflict broke out the ICRC immediately contacted the aut horities of both countries. Its regional delegate based in Brasilia went to the Ecuadorian capital Quito. In Peru the ICRC has had a permanent delegation in Lima since 1984, to handle matters arising from the internal conflict in the country. On 30 January the ICRC addressed a memorandum to the two parties asking them to comply with the provisions of international humanitarian law, and in particular to care for the wounded, respect the civilian population and authorize its delegates to visit prisoners of war.

The armed conflict between Peru and Ecuador broke out in the Rio Cenepa area of the Marañon river basin, as result of a territorial dispute in the northern part of the Condor mountain range. A previous border dispute between the two countries in 1941 was settled in 1942 when both parties signed the Rio Protocol, guaranteed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States. Since then, several clashes of varying intensity have taken place in the area, in particular in 1981 and 1991.