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Friday, 29 November, 2002, 15:24 GMT
Eritrean PoWs return home
Eritrean PoWs
The Eritreans include some civilian detainees
More than 1,200 Eritrean prisoners of war held by Ethiopia for more than two years have returned to their home territory.

They were released by the Ethiopian authorities several days ago and have been travelling in a convoy of 27 buses to the border from their detention centre some 1,000km away.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has said it wants to work with the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments on the cases of some individual PoWs still being held by either country.

However, it said all registered prisoners from the conflict - which ended two years ago - had now been repatriated.

The last group of registered Ethiopian prisoners was sent home three months ago.

Border

ICRC staff based in Ethiopia accompanied the convoy as far as the border.

Another ICRC team based in Eritrea met them at the Mereb bridge river crossing and the detainees were handed over to the Eritrean authorities.

Since the beginning of the conflict between the two countries in 1998, the number repatriated under ICRC auspices is:

  • 1,067 Ethiopian PoWs
  • 5,055 Ethiopian civilian internees
  • 2,067 Eritrean PoWs
  • 1,086 Eritrean civilian internees
An ICRC official in Addis Ababa said that the prisoners were in a good condition - apart from a few cases of malaria.

Despite the August releases of Ethiopian PoWs, Addis Ababa has repeatedly demanded information on missing fighter pilot Colonel Bezabeh Petros and on 36 militiamen and police officers.

Following the war, an international court determined the border between the two countries but tensions remain, with both sides claiming that the court had awarded them the disputed town of Badme.

The physical frontier has not yet been demarcated on the ground.

This process is due to start next year.


Border decision

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See also:

13 Aug 02 | Africa
23 Aug 02 | Africa
20 Aug 02 | Africa
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