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Kosovo: Third edition of the Book of Missing Persons

16-04-2004 News Release 04/53

The ICRC is launching the third edition of the Book of Missing Persons in Kosovo today.

After more than a decade of armed conflict in the Balkans, thousands of people are still reported missing in connection with the hostilities – over 24,000, according to lists drawn up by the ICRC.

The third edition of the Book of Missing Persons in Kosovo contains 3,272 names of people who were reported missing to the ICRC directly by their close relatives and whose fate has still not been ascertained. Their families have the right to know what happened to them. This right is recognized under international humanitarian law, as is the obligation of the authorities to provide the families with the information they need.

The book is primarily meant to help families find answers to their questions. However, it also serves as a reminder that thousands of people still carry the emotional burden of not knowing what happened to their loved ones. In addition, these people are continuously faced with legal and administrative difficulties arising from the unsettled status of their missing relatives. Many of those who went missing were also breadwinners and their families have to cope with the basic problems of daily existence.

So far, in most of the cases of missing persons that have been solved, the necessary information has been obtained through the identification of human remains found in mass and individual graves in Kosovo and Serbia proper. However, a number of bodies will probably never be located. This makes it all the more important for the authorities to fulfil their obligation to provide answers.

The information contained in the Book of Missing Persons in Kosovo is available on the following website: http://www.familylinks.icrc.org  

 For further information, please contact:  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++4122 730 29 30