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Ethiopia/Eritrea: ICRC delegates visit prisoners of war in Ethiopia and provide medical assistance for conflict victims

09-07-1998 News Release 98/27

The ICRC carried out two visits to the 163 prisoners of war being held in Fiche camp, the first on 27 June and the second on 2 July. All of these prisoners have now been registered.

On 26 June a visit was also made to the civilian internees being held in Fiche in order to register those who had arrived since the ICRC first went to the camp on 20 June. At the end of the second visit a total of 664 civilian internees had been registered.

All the visits were conducted in accordance with the ICRC's standard working procedures and will be repeated on a regular basis.

The civilian internees and prisoners of war who had not yet been in contact with their families wrote Red Cross messages which will be distributed via the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, the Red Cross Society of Eritrea and other National Societies.

In close conjunction with the Tigray branch of the Ethiopian Red Cross and the regional health authorities, the ICRC furnished additional medical supplies to be distributed to hospitals and other medical facilities in the northern Tigray region of the country.

In Eritrea, the National Society is continuing to provide medical facilities with ambulances and volunteers near potential conflict areas along the Ethiopian border. Such action has proved helpful in the past, particularly when fighting broke out near the town of Zalambessa and in the south-eastern border area. Local Red Cross branches are being regularly resupplied with first-aid equipment and other essential non-food items. At the same time, in cooperation with local authorities, the Eritrean Red Cross is continuing to assess the situation of displaced persons and other civilians affected by the conflict.

As part of their tracing activities, the ICRC and the Eritrean Red Cross have so far collected 16 Red Cross messages from the families of young men who were studying in Ethiopia under a bilateral exchange programme. Meanwhile, the ICRC is keeping up its dialogue with the authorities in Asmara concerning the protection of persons wounded or captured during the recent fighting.