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Iraq / Saudi Arabia: Iraqi nationals repatriated under ICRC auspices

07-04-2002 News Release 02/23

Six Iraqi civilians reportedly rescued by the Saudi Arabian coast guard after their boat sank off the Saudi coast in late November 2001 were repatriated on 7 April under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Geneva (ICRC) – Six Iraqi civilians reportedly rescued by the Saudi Arabian coast guard after their boat sank off the Saudi coast in late November 2001 were repatriated on 7 April under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The mortal remains of two Iraqi nationals who did not survive the incident were also handed over to representatives of the Iraqi government.

After the Saudi authorities asked the ICRC to facilitate the repatriation in its capacity as a neutral intermediary, representatives from the organization's regional delegation for the Arabian Peninsula visited the six surviving Iraqi nationals in March in Saudi Arabia. In accordance with the organization's usual procedures, ICRC delegates spoke privately with each of the men to make sure he wished to return home.

The ICRC then approached the authorities in Baghdad, and the repatriation operation, which took place at the Judaidah checkpoint on the border   between the two countries, was carried out with the full cooperation of both the Iraqi and Saudi Arabian authorities.