Eritrea-Ethiopia: Ethiopian detainees repatriated
02-05-2002 News Release 02/18
One hundred and twenty-two Ethiopians held in Eritrea were repatriated under ICRC auspices on 2 May. The operation took place at a crossing point on the Mereb River between the towns of Rama and Adi Quala.
The detainees had been held for more than two years at Massawa naval base. Some days before their release, the ICRC was informed by the Eritrean authorities that this group of detainees had been granted amnesty. They were subsequently visited by delegates and each interviewed in private in order to discuss matters of humanitarian concern and ascertain whether each wished to return to Ethiopia or not.
ICRC delegates based in Eritrea accompanied the detainees across the Mereb River, where they were met by an ICRC team based in Ethiopia, before being placed in the care of the Ethiopian authorities.
The Fourth Geneva Convention, which was referred to in the Algiers peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, protects all foreign civilians who find themselves in the hands of a party to the conflict. The ICRC promotes the application and implementation of the Geneva Conventions and will continue to facilitate repatriation. It urges the Ethiopian and the Eritrean authorities to rapidly release and repatriate all persons entitled to this under international law.