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Bosnia-Herzegovina: everything possible is being done for Srebrenica families

08-02-1996 News Release 96/5

Improved dialogue with the authorities concerned, freedom of movement throughout the region and increased political support under the Dayton agreement should help the ICRC to work on a new basis in addressing one of the most painful aspects of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina - the disappearance, according to relatives, of over 10,000 people.

This number includes the approximately 8,000 people unaccounted for since the Srebrenica enclave fell in July 1995. ICRC delegates had quickly drawn up lists of names of people reported missing, particularly the 3,000 people last seen in the hands of the Serb forces when the enclave was taken. Another list contains 5,000 names of those who reportedly fled before the Serb forces arrived in Srebrenica. However, the ICRC has so far had to contend with the parties'unwillingness to discuss the problem.

Like the rest of the international community, it must now accept that there is little chance of finding many of those missing from Srebrenica alive. Nonetheless, the ICRC knows that thousands of families will continue to be tortured by the vain hope of finding their loved ones until they receive news about their fate. Their ordeal is exacerbated by the fact that ICRC delegates still occasionally come across detainees from Srebrenica.

Faced with the enormity of its task, the ICRC plans to hold a meeting shortly between high-level representatives of the signatories of the Dayton agreement, the countries who sponsored it, and the former belligerents to set up active tracing procedures.