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Kosovo: First meeting of working group on missing persons

11-03-2004 News Release 04/33

The working group on missing persons set up as part of the direct dialogue that has been initiated between Pristina and Belgrade met for the first time in Pristina on 9 March. During the meeting, which was chaired by ICRC representative François Stamm, the parties shared their views on the work ahead.

Mr Stamm stressed that the ICRC had agreed to chair the working group for strictly humanitarian reasons and only once it was clear that all the parties involved supported the idea and were committed to working together to provide the families of missing persons with the answers they were seeking. “We will help you, we will assist you, we will support you,” said Mr Stamm, “but at the end of the day only you can set in motion the process that will supply that information. "

The parties agreed that the ICRC would draft rules of procedure for the working group, to be approved during upcoming meetings. Proposals for the agenda of the next meeting were also discussed. Between sessions, the ICRC will continue to consult with the parties and other stakeholders and review progress made on the issue of missing persons. The next meeting is expected to take place in Belgrade in the second half of April.

The ICRC has a great deal of experience in dealing with the problem of persons reported missing during conflicts and the plight of their families, both in the Balkans and elsewhere in the world. It believes that resolving the sensitive issue of missing persons is key to moving reconciliation processes forward.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++4122 730 24 58