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Morocco/Western Sahara: 101 Moroccan prisoners released and repatriated

07-07-2002 News Release 02/38

Geneva (ICRC) – On 7 July the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) repatriated 101Moroccan prisoners released by the Polisario Front. Escorted by an ICRC team, the prisoners left Tindouf, Algeria, aboard an aircraft chartered by the organization and were handed over to the Moroccan authorities at the Inezgane military base, near Agadir. Before the operation, ICRC delegates had interviewed the prisoners individually to make sure that they were being repatriated of their own free will. All the prisoners were allowed to take their personal effects with them.
The ICRC welcomes the release of the 101 prisoners, most of whom are sick and elderly. At the same time, it remains concerned about the plight of the 1,260 Moroccans still held captive and views the repatriation as a step towards the release of all prisoners. On 17 January 2002, 115Moroccan prisoners were released under the auspices of the ICRC.
ICRC delegates visit the prisoners twice a year. Their most recent visit took place in May. The delegates provide the prisoners with medical aid in particular, and enable them to exchange news with their families by means of Red Cross messages.