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Eritrea/Ethiopia: Ethiopians return home

30-11-2000 News Release 00/46

Nearly 850 people of Ethiopian origin were repatriated from Eritrea on Tuesday under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). As in similar operations in the past, the ICRC acted as a neutral and independent intermediary in accordance with its mandate under the fourth Geneva Convention.

The operation enabled an initial group of 567 civilian internees, who had been held at Ala camp (near Dekemhare, south of Asmara), to cross the Mereb river at a point where it separates the two countries.They were followed by a second group of 276 people who had been released from Sembel prison in Asmara. All had expressed the desire to return to Ethiopia.

During the operation, the returnees were assisted by ICRC staff based in Eritrea. Once on the other side of the river, they were taken into the care of staff based in Addis Ababa, who later placed them in the charge of the Ethiopian authorities. The ICRC was supported throughout the operation by volunteers from the National Red Cross Societies of both Eritrea and Ethiopia.