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Eritrea/Ethiopia : Two Eritreans reunited with their families

11-04-2003 News Release 03/38

Daniel can hardly hold back his tears. He just has arrived at Asmara International Airport and is being greeted by his mother Haimanot, whom he has not seen for 13 years.

The 33-year-old Eritrean left his home country more than a decade ago to study theology in Addis Ababa. When the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out in 1998, there was no way for him to go home and he lost touch with his family. Recently, thanks to the Red Cross tracing network in both countries, contact was restored, and today he is at last able to embrace his mother again.

The same day in April another Eritrean family is being reunited. Negasi, a 49-year-old Eritrean who has not seen his home country for seven years, left Ethiopia with Daniel. His sister Beleset has been waiting anxiously for him at Asmara Airport and welcomes her brother with a delighted smile. The ICRC delegations in Ethiopia and Eritrea helped the two men to get in touch with their families in Eritrea. Since both of them are in poor health and have no relatives in Ethiopia to take care of them, the ICRC arranged for them to return to Eritrea by air via Nairobi, securing the necessary permits from the Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities, purchasing the flight tickets and providing them with ICRC travel documents. From the time they left Addis Ababa until their arrival in Asmara, Daniel and Negasi were accompanied by ICRC health staff and tracing delegates.

Since 1998, more than 200 Eritreans and Ethiopians have been reunited with their families in their respective countries of origin through the ICRC's family reunification programme, which focuses on children, the elderly and the sick. While most of them are repatriated by air, others have travelled overland via the Mereb bridge, a crossing point between the towns of Adi Quala in Eritre a and Rama in Ethiopia.

 Further information: Marçal Izard, ICRC Asmara, tel. ++2911 181 164