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Kosovo: ICRC calls for greater commitment to resolve issue of missing persons

31-05-2006 News Release 06/31

The working group on people missing in Kosovo held its sixth meeting in Belgrade today. The group was set up in March 2004 to find out what happened to persons still unaccounted for in connection with the events in Kosovo between January 1998 and December 2000 and to address the needs of their families. It meets under the auspices of the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Kosovo and is chaired by the ICRC in its capacity as a neutral intermediary.

Since the last meeting, which took place on 9 March 2006, the fate of 124 people has been elucidated and their remains have been handed over to the families. According to the list kept by the working group, 2,287 people are currently unaccounted for as compared with more than 3,000 at the beginning of 2005.

While a limited number of new exhumations have taken place, the answers obtained so far are mostly the result of exhumation and identification processes linked to gravesites that were already known. For further progress to be made, the most senior authorities in Belgrade and Pristina must fulfil their responsibility by taking action and making available new information on gravesite locations as well as other information clarifying what happened to those still unaccounted for. Just as importantly, the international community must step up its commitment and support.

“For this process to achieve further results, it is essential that both the Belgrade and Pristina delegations to the working group receive explicit and concrete support from their authorities at the highest level, as well as from the international community,” said François Stamm, the ICRC head of operations for south-eastern Europe, who chaired the meeting. “It is my hope and expectation that such support will be given very soon.”

The dates of the next formal session of the working group will depend on the progress both sides manage to achieve.

 For more information, please contact:  

 Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, +41 79 217 32 64  

 Vera Dragovic, ICRC Belgrade, tel. +381 11 344 15 22  

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