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Eritrea: authorities terminate ICRC role in repatriations of Ethiopians

03-08-2009 News Release 09/149

Geneva (ICRC) – The Eritrean authorities have informed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that it will no longer be involved in any repatriation of Ethiopians from the country. According to the authorities, this decision was motivated by the unilateral cancellation of two repatriation operations in late 2008 and early 2009 by Ethiopia.

Since 2000, more than 43,000 Ethiopian and Eritrean civilians wanting to return home have been repatriated to their respective countries, with due respect for their dignity, under ICRC auspices. As a neutral intermediary the ICRC made the necessary logistical arrangements on both sides of the border and placed the repatriated individuals in the care of their home country's authorities. The authorities in each country are responsible for attending to the needs of those arriving and for reintegrating them into society.

In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC will continue to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention applicable to the repatriation of Ethiopians from Eritrea. The decision of the Eritrean authorities to terminate the ICRC's involvement in the repatriations does not affect the right of Ethiopian nationals to leave Eritrea if they wish to do so. Furthermore, it does not relieve the Eritrean authorities of their obligation under Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure that any future repatriation – irrespective of ICRC involvement – is carried out in satisfactory conditions as regards safety, hygiene, sanitation and food.

  For further information, please contact:
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: + 41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17