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Cameroon/Nigeria conflict: ICRC repatriates pows and civilians

24-11-1998 News Release 98/39

ICRC (Geneva) - A total of 211 prisoners of war and civilian internees held in connection with the conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi peninsula were released and repatriated on 24 November. The operation took place under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which acted as a neutral intermediary.

The Cameroonian authorities released 124 Nigerians, who had been regularly visited by ICRC delegates throughout their captivity, while 87 Cameroonians, who were visited once by the ICRC before their release, were freed by the Nigerian authorities. They were flown in an ICRC-chartered aircraft to their respective countries. Before boarding, each was interviewed individually by delegates to ensure that all were leaving of their own free will. Mortal remains were also returned.

The ICRC has reminded both parties that its delegations in Lagos and Yaoundé are available to help in ascertaining the whereabouts of those who remain missing, and thus put an end to the uncertainty of their families.