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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement


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Press Statement by Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
August 17, 2000


ETHIOPIA/ERITREA
Humanitarian and Human Rights Issues

The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights violations and humanitarian issues that continue to adversely affect civilians impacted by the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. These problems threaten to worsen relations between the two countries at an important juncture in the peace process

Of most pressing concern are the continued detentions of civilians of both nationalities, the dangerous and uncoordinated manner in which civilians detained by Eritrea are being deported or repatriated to Ethiopia, and the lack of access by international agencies to Eritrean civilians in Ethiopian occupied areas of Eritrea. These conditions are grave and pose a direct threat to the well-being of thousands of innocent civilians.

In addition, we remain deeply concerned that as many as a million and a half Ethiopians and Eritreans have been displaced from their homes. Many are living in camps. Some are living in caves. Tens of thousands have been expelled from their countries of residence and forced to leave most of their possessions behind.

We have repeatedly called on the Eritrean Government to allow full access by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to all detainee and prisoner of war camps, and to ensure that all repatriations or deportations are conducted with the full involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross and in accordance with international law. We further call upon both governments to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross and appropriate international organizations to ensure that civilians in areas of Eritrea currently occupied by Ethiopia receive appropriate and immediate international aid and protection. We call on both governments to provide due process to all detainees in accordance with international law.

The United States is sending Ambassador Richard Bogosian, Special Assistant to the Greater Horn, to the region at the end of this week to further examine these issues and underscore U.S. concerns.

[end of document]

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