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Red Cross repatriates 1766 Ethiopians, Eritreans in 2008

By Tesfa-alem Tekle

January 9, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday said that it has repatriated a total of 1766 People between war-torn African neighbors of Ethiopia and Eritrea, in a number of repatriation operations it took in 2008 under the auspices of the International aid body.

"In 2008, 1714 people including 56minors were voluntarily repatriated from Eritrea to Ethiopia," the ICRC said.

"In same operation, 52 civilians including 22 minors were repatriated from Ethiopia to Eritrea" it added

Office representative in Ethiopian capital, Patrick Megevand told Sudan Tribune that the repatriation operation in 2008 went successful.

"We had 3 separate repatriation operation we carried out last year and all went very well" Megevand said adding "ICRC will continue the same operation in the year 2009 too."

"People in both countries are being registering for repatriation and once both authorities (Ethiopia and Eritrea) agree for the next operation to continue we will begin repatriating in the turned in new year; hopefully we will witness the first repatriation operation of the year 2009 in 3 months time” he added

Established in 1863, the ICRC is an impartial, neutral and Independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and Internal violence and to provide them assistance.

The Organization has been repatriating Ethiopians and Eritreans who were displaced and affected by the conflict after the two neighbor countries in December 2000 signed an agreement to end the 1998-2000 border war that claimed the lives of 70,000 people.

Over 100,000 people both Ethiopians and Eritreans including war prisoners were repatriated to their respective homeland under the ICRC repatriation operation that began in June 2000.

The repatriation process was assisted by Eritrean Ethiopian, Red Cross officials and ICRC delegates based in both countries.

(ST)