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ICRC repatriates 24 Ethiopian prisoners of war

10-10-2001 News Release 01/40

Geneva (ICRC) Twenty-four Ethiopian prisoners of war (POWs) were repatriated to Ethiopia from Eritrea on Wednesday 10 October under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The operation took place at a crossing point on the Mereb river between the towns of Adi Quala (Eritrea) and Rama (Ethiopia).

The repatriated POWs had been registered and visited regularly by ICRC delegates during the period of their captivity at Nafka internment camp. They all expressed their wish to return to Ethiopia.

ICRC delegates based in Eritrea accompanied the former POWs across the Mereb river. There they were met by ICRC staff based in Ethiopia who handed the released prisoners over to the Ethiopian authorities.

Since the peace agreement was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Algiers on 12 December 2000, the ICRC has organized the repatriation of 856 Eritrean and 653 Ethiopian prisoners of war. At the time of the agreement, the ICRC had registered and was visiting some 2,600 Eritrean POWs in Ethiopia and some 1,000 Ethiopian POWs in Eritrea.

    

The Third Geneva Convention of 1949 relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, which was referred to in the Algiers Agreement, stipulates that all POWs must be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities.

The ICRC, which has a mandate to promote compliance with the Geneva Conventions, has been entrusted with the respon sibility of supervising the release and repatriation of the POWs. The ICRC renews its appeal to both the Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities to release and repatriate all remaining POWs promptly.