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Armenia/Azerbaijan: Azerbaijani soldier and Armenian civilian internee handed over

17-03-2011 News Release 11/60

Geneva/Baku/Yerevan (ICRC) – An Azerbaijani soldier detained in Yerevan, Armenia, was handed over to Azerbaijani authorities today under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC also facilitated the handover today of an Armenian civilian who had been interned in Azerbaijan. The operation took place in Bash Gervend, Aghdam region, situated on the Line of Contact.

"We are very pleased that Armenia and Azerbaijan have followed through on their commitment to exchange persons detained in relation to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, as declared by the presidents of the two countries in Astrakhan in October 2010 and confirmed in Sochi in March 2011," said Lorenzo Caraffi, head of the ICRC delegation in Yerevan. "Acting as a neutral intermediary and in accordance with our mandate, we facilitated the handover operation at the request of both the Armenian and the Azerbaijani authorities. Before the operation took place, the ICRC made sure that the persons concerned were returning of their own free will."

ICRC delegates had visited the persons transferred on several occasions prior to the operation in order to assess their treatment and conditions of detention. "I'm looking forward to being back with my family and spending time with my son, who has grown a lot since I last saw him," one of them said when he was visited by ICRC representatives for the last time before the handover operation.

The ICRC had also made arrangements for both persons to exchange news with their families throughout the period of their detention.

In accordance with its mandate under the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has been operating in the region since 1992 in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.

For further information, please contact:
Ilaha Huseynova, ICRC Baku, tel: +994 50 316 00 24
Ashot Astabatsyan, ICRC Yerevan, tel: +37410 297 415
Eteri Musaelyan, ICRC Stepanakert/Khankendi, tel: +374 97 211 303
Vassily Fadeev, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 34 53