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Management, exhumation and identification of human remains: A viewpoint of the developing world

31-12-2002 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 848, by Alex Kirasi Olumbe, Ahmed Kalebi Yakub

The difficulties encountered by developing countries in identifying missing persons as a result of armed conflict, internal violence or human rights abuses form the basis of the analysis of this article. The example of the situation in Kenya is presented as a case study. The steps involved in the process of human remains identification are detailed and it is argued that a network for the identification of missing should be established in all regions of the globe.

   

Alex Kirasi Olumbe and Ahmed Kalebi Yakub,
Alex Kirasi Olumbe, M.D., is Head of Medico-legal Services and Chief Government Pathologist of Kenya and Ahmed Kalebi Yakub, M.D., M.B.Ch.B. (University of Nairobi) is a medical officer at Coast General Provincial Hospital, Ministry of Health, Kenya. 
   
Abstract 
 Missing persons are those whose whereabouts are unknown and hence presumed dead, or those dead but whose remains are not recovered or are unidentified. The problem of missi ng persons arising from armed conflicts, internal violence and human rights abuses mostly affects developing countries, yet these countries are ill-equipped to tackle the problem. A first-hand account by the authors of the magnitude and gravity of the situation in Kenya is given as an example. Any proper initiative at resolving this issue must be proactive rather than reactive. The authors argue that a network for the identification of missing persons, based on the concept of Missing Persons Clearinghouses should be established in all regions of the globe. The concept is discussed in the article, and a detailed description of the steps involved in the process of human remains identification from the perspective of developing countries is outlined.  
   
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