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Ethiopia: Asmara suspends Ethiopians repatriation from Eritrea

August 10, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — Asmara authorities have ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to stop the decade long repatriation process of Ethiopians from Eritrea.

The move by Eritrea was said to have been motivated in response to Ethiopia’s unilateral cancellation of two repatriation operations in late 2008 and early 2009.

Despite the decision, ICRC however says that in accordance with its mandate, it will continue to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention applicable to the repatriation of Ethiopians from Eritrea.

“The decision of the Eritrean authorities to terminate the ICRC’s involvement in the repatriations does not affect the right of Ethiopian nationals to leave Eritrea if they wish to do so,” it said.

The red cross further stressed that this decsion does not relieve the Eritrean authorities of their obligation under Article the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure that any future repatriation – irrespective of ICRC involvement – is carried out in satisfactory conditions as regards safety, hygiene, sanitation and food.

ICRC Officials in Addis Ababa said that, earlier to Asmara’s decision of blocking the repatriation process, ICRC officials and Eritrean authorities had engaged in failed talks for weeks.

Since 2000, more than 43,000 Ethiopian and Eritrean civilians, based on their consent have been repatriated to their respective countries, with due respect for their dignity, under ICRC auspices.

As a neutral intermediary the ICRC made the necessary logistical arrangements on both sides of the border and placed the repatriated individuals in the care of their home country’s authorities.

The authorities in each country are responsible for attending to the needs of those arriving and for reintegrating them into society. ICRC said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998-2000 fought a bloody border war, which claimed the lives of some 70,000 people. The war has also separated tens of thousands from their families and beloved ones.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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