15 Ethiopian prisoners of war repatriated
02-08-2002 News Release 02/41
Geneva (ICRC) – On Friday, 2 August 2002, 15 Ethiopian prisoners of war (POWs) were repatriated from Eritrea to Ethiopia under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The repatriated persons had been registered and regularly visited by ICRC delegates during the period of their captivity at Nakfa internment camp in Eritrea. All 15 POWs had expressed the wish to return to their country of origin.
ICRC delegates based in Eritrea accompanied the POWs to a crossing point on the Mereb river between the towns of Adi Quala in Eritrea and Rama in Ethiopia. There they were met by ICRC staff based in Ethiopia, who took charge of the released prisoners and handed them over to the Ethiopian authorities.
Since the peace agreement was concluded between Ethiopia and Eritrea in Algiers on 12December 2000, the ICRC has organized the repatriation of 718 Ethiopian and 937Eritrean POWs. At the time of the signing of the agreement, the ICRC had registered and was visiting some 1,000 Ethiopian POWs in Eritrea and some 2,600 Eritrean POWs in Ethiopia.
On basis of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, which was referred to in the Algiers agreement, all POWs must be released and repatriated without delay after the close of hostilities. The ICRC, which promotes the application of and compliance with the Geneva Conventions, was entrusted under the peace agreement with the task of supervising the release and repatriation of POWs and other persons detained in connection with the conflict. The ICRC will continue to facilitate future repatriations and urges the Ethiopian and the Eritrean authorities promptly to release and repatriate all remaining POWs.