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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Call to release Horn prisoners
Soldiers
Almost 2,000 people are still being held after the war
The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross is on a mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea, urging them to release prisoners of war (POWs).

Two years after their border war finished, almost 2,000 prisoners are still being held - mostly by Ethiopia.

Eritrean refugees
Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes during the war
In addition to the POWs, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger will also look into the question of reuniting thousands of families divided by the conflict.

Direct travel is still not allowed between the two countries and some families must meet up in third countries.

Mr Kellenberger is scheduled to meet Eritrean President Isaias Eferwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Borderless

"We very much hope there will be the immediate and unconditional release of all persons detained in this conflict," ICRC spokeswoman Atonella Notari told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Ethiopia is holding 1663 Eritrean POWs, while 282 Ethiopians are in Eritrean custody.

UN peacekeeping force
The UN is still involved in peace-keeping along the border
The two countries agreed to release all detainees when signing the 2000 Algiers peace agreement which ended their war, Ms Notari said.

Since the end of the conflict, 1928 people have been repatriated to Eritrea, while 5,773 have returned to Ethiopia, the ICRC says.

The United Nations is still in the process of drawing up the official border between the two countries - the cause of their two-and-a-half-year war.

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 ON THIS STORY
Atonella Notari, ICRC on BBC Focus on Africa
"They have legal obligations"

Border decision

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13 Aug 02 | Africa
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