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Kosovo: ICRC deplores slow progress of working group on missing persons

09-03-2006 News Release 06/10

The working group on persons unaccounted for in connection with the events that took place in Kosovo between January 1998 and December 2000 concluded its fifth meeting in Pristina on 9 March 2006.

Both sides reported on the measures they had taken since the last meeting was held in October 2005 with a view to elucidating the fate of missing persons and addressing the needs of their families. The progress of the working group remains too slow, however, to meet the legitimate expectations of the families .  

The ICRC head of operations for south-eastern Europe, François Stamm, who chaired the meeting, said that the fate of 206 missing people had been elucidated since the previous meeting and their remains handed over to the families. He also said that during the same period, 47 new cases had been added to the working group's provisional list. According to the list, 2,398 people are currently unaccounted for as compared with 2,557 in October 2005 and more than 3,000 at the beginning of 2005.

Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting, Mr Stamm said: " I asked all the participants to renew their efforts as the arrival of spring, when exhumations become possible again, brings an opportunity for further progress. Without tangible results, I fear the working group will loose its legitimacy in the eyes of the families of those missing. "

The group, which strives to find out what has happened to those still unaccounted for in connection with the events in Kosovo, meets under the auspices of the United Nations secretary-general's special representative for Kosovo, Søren Jessen-Petersen, and is chaired by the ICRC in its capacity as a neutral intermediary. The recent meeting was attended by representatives of the authorities in both Belgrade and Pristina and by various observers. Earlier meetings took place in March 2004, March 2005, June 2005 and October 2005.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 24 58 / ++41 79 217 32 24  

 Jelena Stijacic, ICRC Belgrade, tel. ++381 11 344 15 22 / ++381 63 359 057  

  Idriz Gashi, ICRC Pristina, tel. ++377 44 168 848