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Kosovo: Fourth meeting of working group on missing persons

06-10-2005 News Release No. 05/75

The working group on people missing in Kosovo met today in Belgrade.

The group, which strives to clarify what has happened to nearly 2,560 persons still unaccounted for in connection with the events in Kosovo between January 1998 and December 2000, 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 meeting was attended by representatives of the authorities in both Belgrade and Pristina and also by various observers. Previous meetings took place in March 2004, March 2005 and June 2005.

At today's meeting, both sides reported on the measures they have taken since the last session in June, and reaffirmed their responsibility to continue working to resolve this pressing issue of humanitarian concern.

The ICRC's head of operations for south-eastern Europe, François Stamm, who chaired the meeting, explained that since the last meeting the fate of more than 200 missing persons had been established and their remains handed over to their families. He added that during the same period 57 other cases of persons unaccounted for had been added to the working group's provisional list. According to that list, 2,557 persons currently remain unaccounted for, compared with 2,716 cases in June and more than 3,000 cases at the beginning of 2005. During today's meeting, the delegations from Belgrade and Pristina also reported that the remains of a number of other individuals would soon be identified and handed over to the families concerned.

Speaking after today's meeting Mr Stamm said: " Some further progress has been achieved but I am convinced that the working group could still do a lot more. I am concerned that progress has so far come about only as a result of forensic work. Neither delegation has provided information from other sources that could help to clarify what has happened to those unaccounted for and to locate additional gravesites. This must change if the working group is to meet the growing expectations of the families of the missing. "

    

 For further information, please contact:  

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

 Dragan Trbojevic, ICRC Belgrade, tel. ++381 63 344 155  

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