June 13, 2008 (MEKELLE) — some 400 Ethiopians which were stranded in Eritrea for years returned home this week under the auspices of the international committee of the Red cross(ICRC).

The Ethiopians, during arrival, were welcomed by hundreds of residents and officials of Mekelle town, in the northern Tigray region.

Among the returnees a former prisoner of war, who recently requested to be repatriated is included.

Some 15 civilians were also repatriated from Ethiopia to Eritrea on the same operation.

Officials said that the repatriation process was accomplished based on the neutral and independent intermediation of ICRC and based on the consent of each individual with cooperation of authorities from both sides.

ICRC delegates based in Eritrea and an ambulance team of the Eritrean Red Cross accompanied the civilians going to Ethiopia on the first part of their journey from Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, to the border.

At the crossing point at Mereb River, located between the towns of Adi Quala in Eritrea and Rama in Ethiopia, the group was met by ICRC delegates based in Ethiopia, before being placed in the care of the Ethiopian authorities.