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Bosnia-Herzegovina: Ten years after fall of Srebrenica, families of missing persons continue to suffer

08-07-2005 News Release 05/60

As Bosnia-Herzegovina prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the fall of the town of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995, the ICRC is calling for renewed efforts to clarify the fate of more than 14,500 people who remain unaccounted for in connection with the armed conflict in that country. This figure includes more than 5,500 people reported missing following the events in Srebrenica and the surrounding area.

The killing of up to 8,000 people after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces constitutes the most serious single violation of international humanitarian law in Europe since the Second World War. The events of July 1995 are a tragic milestone in an armed conflict that caused immense suffering among all communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ten years after the fall of Srebrenica, and nearly 10 years after the Dayton peace agreement brought the conflict to an end, the families of the missing continue to suffer. There is little doubt that the missing are dead. However, not knowing for certain what happened to a son, husband, father or brother (almost all the missing persons are men) and not being able to give them a dignified burial or to mourn their passing at a gravesite places an intolerable burden on these families.

The families'right to know the fate of their missing relatives – as recognized by international humanitarian law – must be upheld and respected. It is primarily the responsibility of the authorities to provide families with the information they need to put these tragedies behind them and move on with their lives. The international community must continue to support the process under way.

A number of organizations, including the ICRC, are striving to clarify the fate of all remaining missing persons and to support their families. Despite their limitations, the ICRC's efforts are valued by the families of the missing. Last year's ante-mortem data collection campaign, conducted jointly with the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina and associations of families of missing persons, has so far helped identify the remains of nearly 1,000 people. The ICRC now plans to hand over the ante-mortem database it has assembled to the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The database contains information on more than 12,000 people who are still unaccounted for.

The ICRC's delegate-general for Europe and the Americas, Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, will be representing the organization at the events that will be held to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica. Mégevand-Roggo was the ICRC's head of delegation in Sarajevo in 1995.

The list of persons unaccounted for in connection with the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina can be found at http://www.familylinks.icrc.org  

 For further information, please contact:  

 Sanela Bajrambasic, ICRC Sarajevo, tel. +387 33 652 407 or +387 61 102 278  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 29 30 or +41 79 217 32 26