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Update of ICRC activities in Ethiopia

19-08-2002 Operational Update

The ICRC has a wide range of activities in Ethiopia. These include visiting prisoners of war (PoWs) and civilian internees held as a result of the international armed conflict and organizing repatriations of PoWs and civilians between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The ICRC provides assistance to the civilian population affected by the conflict and has conducted protection activities in former occupied territories.

Many families were separated during the conflict and the ICRC endeavours to reunite them. It also runs a system of Red Cross messages to enable family members to exchange news. In addition a tracing service is run to establish the fate of people who are missing because of the conflict.

The ICRC continues to promote awareness and respect for humanitarian law.



  • In connection with the international armed conflict, 718 Ethiopian PoWs and 5'055 civilian internees have been repatriated to Ethiopia since December 2000. During the same period, 937 Eritrean POWs and 991 civilian internees have been repatriated to Eritrea.

  • As regards the internal situation, the conditions of about 6,800 civilians held in connection with the 1991 change of government (ex-Derg) or for reasons of State security are followed individually by the ICRC.

  • ICRC delegates carried out 275 detention visits in 2001 and 60 in the first quarter of 2002.

  • It regularly visits 6 federal prisons, about 60 civil prisons and some 80 police stations.

  • The ICRC is active with new projects or continuing ones in 13 places of detention providing latrines, showers, water storage and kitchen benefiting 10,000 people.

  • Material assistance in the form soap, blankets, jerrycans , clothes etc. is provided to those detainees at a cost of almost half a million Swiss francs.

 Restoring family links  

  • The ICRC has reunited 94 vulnerable people, mostly children and the elderly, with their families in Eritrea.

  • Together with the Ethiopian Red Cross, the ICRC collected 30,000 Red Cross family messages (RCMs) and distributed 27,000 RCMs in 2001.

  • The ICRC has opened 176 enquiries for persons trying to trace their family members, out of these 97 persons were successfully located so far.

 Activities in the Somali Region  


  • The ICRC has helped communities to construct 2 Berkats providing water for 1,000 persons since the beginning of the year.

  • Through the construction and cleaning of 50 km irrigation canals in 110 villages, more than 95,000 inhabitants have been assisted through food for work programmes.

  • More than 4,500 tools such as hoes, picks, axes etc... were distributed to riverine communities to maintain their canals and improve means for agriculture. The ICRC also provided fishing equipment for 8 villages with 35,000 beneficiaries.

  • The ICRC has continued the follow-up of trained village health women serving 29 communities with 1,400 inhabitants.

 Activities in Tigray  


  • The ICRC has provided 2,500 roofing sheets, 1,900 poles and 4,000 kg of nails to 1,000 families rebuilding their homes damaged during the war with Eritrea.

  • The ICRC has continued its project of rehabilitation of hand dug wells in areas affected by the conflict and 3 drillings are going on in 7 villages benefiting 400 families.

 Orthopaedic programmes  


  • The ICRC made it possible for 584 patients to receive orthopaedic assistance.

  • It has provided 26 orthosis, 465 prosthesis and 294 pairs of crutches

  • The ICRC has and is still supporting orthopaedic centres in Addis Ababa, Mekele, Harar, Dessie and Arba Minch as well as the Leprosy Centre (ALERT) and the Cheschire Home in Addis.

 Promoting awareness of international humanitarian law  


  • The ICRC has organized dissemination sessions to 4,000 members of the Ethiopian Special Police Force, 3,500 officers and soldiers of the Ground Force as well as 500 members of the Air Force, which has recently accepted to integrate in its curricula the law of armed conflict.

 Cooperation with the Ethiopian Red Cross  Society  

  • The ICRC actively supports the Ethiopian Red Cross's programmes, its conflict preparedness and response, its capacity building as well as the review of its ambulance service thorough the country. It has also provided training, equipment, financial resources and technical assistance.