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Eritrea/Sudan : Ethiopian civilians repatriated

26-04-2001 News Release 01/16

On Friday 20 April the ICRC arranged for the repatriation of two groups of Ethiopians from Eritrea and Sudan.

The first group of 1,002 persons of Ethiopian origin, most of whom had been living in or near the Eritrean capital Asmara, left Eritrea at a crossing point on the Mereb river between the border towns of Adi Quala and Rama. They were assisted on their way to the border by ICRC delegates based in Eritrea and beyond that point by delegates working in Ethiopia, who gave them into the care of the Ethiopian authorities. Volunteers from the National Red Cross Societies of Eritrea and Ethiopia also took part in the operation.

The second group of 249 persons of Ethiopian origin had fled the Gash Barka area of Eritrea when fighting broke out in May 2000 to seek safety across the Sudanese border in Kassala. There they obtained food and shelter in a UNHCR refugee camp and informed ICRC delegates of their desire to go to Ethiopia. They left Kassala on Thursday 19 April in a convoy accompanied by staff of the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent. When they reached the border town of Metema the next day, they were assisted by ICRC delegates and volunteers of the Ethiopian Red Cross. Their final destination is Shire, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

In both operations, the ICRC acted in its capacity as a neutral and independent intermediary. The ICRC will continue to assist persons affected by the consequences of the armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea and to promote respect for international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949.