AFRICA - Flight Hitch Delays Ethio-Eritrea Exchange of Prisonersgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The exchange of the first batch of war prisoners between Ethiopia and Eritrea failed to commence on schedule Friday due to technical hitches with the plane chartered for the operation by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Alsin Asechlimann, Head of the ICRC delegation to Ethiopia, told journalists at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport "the repatriation operation will be delayed due to technical problem of the chartered aircraft."
The plane was to have left the Ethiopian capital Friday with 110 Eritrean Prisoners of War to Asmara under a recent agreement that ended the two-year bloody border conflict between the neighbouring countries.
The same aircraft was to return from the Eritrean capital late Friday to Addis Ababa with 80 Ethiopian Prisoners of war.
Two bus loads of Eritrea prisoners, accompanied by ICRC personnel in three vehicles, waited at the Bole airport, without disembarking from their vehicles, for two hours, for the flight that was not to be.
The convoy later returned to a camp outside Addis Ababa, when it became clear the aircraft could not come on schedule.
Anxious journalists at the airport were not allowed to speak to the POWs.
But Asechlimann expressed the hope "that maintenance of the aircraft will be completed by the end of the day."
The repatriation operation was originally planned to last until Saturday.
-- Doris (email@example.com), December 24, 2000