Eritrea / Ethiopia: 136 Ethiopians repatriated
28-02-2003 News Release 03/22
On 28 February, 136 Ethiopian civilians were repatriated from Eritrea under the auspices of the ICRC. Eight of them were children and teenagers being reunited with their families.
The group crossed the border at the Mereb bridge, between the towns of Adi Quala, in Eritrea, and Rama, in Ethiopia.
Five children – two boys and three girls – are between the ages of 7 and 15. Abrahale, whose mother left Eritrea two years ago, became a street child. Now he is back with his mother. Semira was left behind when her mother went to Ethiopia in 1999; the two have finally been reunited. Biniam left Ethiopia together with his mother before the border conflict started. His mother died in Eritrea and he has now rejoined his father. Leteberhan lived in Eritrea for six years and will now join her brother in Ethiopia. The last child, Mary, lived with her grandmother in Eritrea but recently asked to be reunited with her parents in Addis Ababa.
ICRC delegates based in Eritrea accompanied the returnees on the first leg of their journey. At the Mereb bridge, the group was met by ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia before being placed in the care of the Ethiopian authorities. Volunteers from the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and the Red Cross Society of Eritrea also took part in the operation, handing out food and water on their respective sides of the border.
The ICRC will continue to assist people affected by the recent armed conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia and will strive to ensure compliance with the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
Further information: Friedrun Medert, ICRC Asmara, tel. ++2911 181 130 or 181 164