Armenia/Azerbaijan: repatriations take place under ICRC auspices
04-11-2010 News Release 10/199
Geneva / Baku / Yerevan (ICRC) – The body of an Armenian citizen who died in Baku, Azerbaijan, in October 2010, was today repatriated to Armenia under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
On the same day, the ICRC also repatriated an Azerbaijani citizen who had been interned in Armenia.
The operation took place on the road between the Azerbaijani town of Gazakh and the Armenian town of Ijevan.
"We keep in close contact with families on all sides whose relatives are detained, missing or have died, and we share their anxiety and sorrow. It is always very sad to have to bring bad news or repatriate a body," said Melany Vonrospach, an ICRC delegate in Yerevan who participated in the repatriation.
On receiving formal notification from the Azerbaijani authorities that the Armenian citizen had died while in detention, the ICRC immediately informed his family.
In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC visits prisoners of war and civilian internees detained in relation to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. Acting as a neutral intermediary, it also facilitates their repatriation and the repatriation of bodies, with the agreement of the parties concerned. Last April, the ICRC repatriated an Azerbaijani soldier and the remains of two Azerbaijani citizens. The organization is currently involved in discussions on repatriating other internees and human remains in both directions, including the remains of two Azerbaijani soldiers recently killed in the area along the Line of Contact.
"We welcome the declaration adopted at the latest round of talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Astrakhan in October 2010, which mentions an exchange of prisoners of war and human remains, and the assistance the ICRC could provide in this regard," said the ICRC's head of operations for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Pascale Meige Wagner. Ms Meige Wagner visited Armenia and Azerbaijan in September and discussed the subject with the defence ministers and deputy foreign ministers of both countries. "We would like to reiterate that in our capacity as a neutral intermediary, we stand ready to facilitate repatriations. However, we must stress that the ICRC only repatriates a released detainee after it has confirmed that the person is returning to their home country of their own free will."
Working under the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has been operating in Azerbaijan and Armenia since 1992, in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.
For further information, please contact:
Ilaha Huseynova, ICRC Baku, tel: + 994 12 465 63 35
Ashot Astabatsyan, ICRC Yerevan, tel: +374 10 297 415
Vassily Fadeev, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 34 53