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Democratic Republic of Congo conflict: Repatriation of 177 prisoners of war by the ICRC

22-06-2000 News Release 00/23

On 16 and 17 June, following agreements between the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Namibia, the ICRC repatriated 177 former prisoners of war (POWs) of Rwandan, Zimbabwean and Namibian nationality who had been detained by the various belligerents in the Congo. The ICRC acted at the request of the parties to the conflict in its capacity as a neutral intermediary, and carried out the operation in accordance with its mandate. The POWs had all been registered and regularly visited by the ICRC during the period of their captivity.

An ICRC aircraft was used to bring 35 Zimbabwean and 11 Namibian former POWs from Kigali, in Rwanda, to the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Friday before returning to Kigali with 88 Rwandan ex-POWs on board. The next day, another plane took the 35 Zimbabweans from Kinshasa onward to Harare and an additional 43 Rwandan ex-POWs from Harare to Kigali. ICRC delegates were on board all flights.

The ICRC will continue to make its services available to all parties to the conflict in order to promote compliance with the provisions of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977.