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Peace Implementation Conference in London: main focus on missing persons

04-12-1996 News Release 96/48

The Peace Implementation Conference for the Dayton agreement will be held on 4 and 5 December in London.

The ICRC's work in the former Yugoslavia continues to focus on the search for missing persons. Delegates have so far:

-collected nearly 16,000 individual files from the families of those who remain missing;

-centralized all the available information about the missing;

-assigned to each of the former warring parties, as part of a working group set up and chaired by the ICRC, specific responsibility for inquiring into cases of missing persons;

-published the complete list of the names of those who remain missing and launched an extensive campaign among the general public to maximize the chances of obtaining data on the missing.

So far, answers have been found in nearly 1,000 cases. A few dozen persons for whom tracing requests were filed have turned out to be alive. It is to be feared that all the missing persons who could have come forward of their own accord have already done so, and that the remaining thousands are no longer alive.

In its capacity as a neutral intermediary between the families of the missing persons and the former warring parties, the ICRC will nevertheless actively pursue the search for reliable data and forward the information gathered to the families, who now face the difficult task of coming to terms with their loss and regaining some peace of mind. Ascertaining the fate of their missing relatives should aid them in that process.

A press briefing will be held in London by ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga today at 4.30 p.m.