Archived page: may contain outdated information!
  • Send page
  • Print page

Over 18,000 persons still missing in the Balkans

30-08-2006 News Release

In the Balkans there remain thousands of persons still unaccounted for as a result of the former conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. Of the more than 33,000 missing persons for whom tracing requests have been submitted to the ICRC since the outbreak of hostilities, 18,555 remain unaccounted for today – 13,862 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2,409 from Croatia and 2,284 from Kosovo respectively.

Today, hundreds of thousands of families around the world remain without any news of their relatives who went missing in situations of armed conflict or internal violence. Whether people go missing on the battlefield or are the victims of forced disappearances, their relatives have a right to know what has happened to them.

Like numerous other organizations around the world, the ICRC is striving to elucidate the fate of persons missing in connection with armed conflict and internal violence. One of its main aims in visiting places of detention and registering detainees is to prevent forced disappearances. In 2005, throughout the world, the ICRC visited 528,000 persons deprived of freedom in around 2,600 places of detention and, working with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, exchanged some 100,000 messages between family members.

In the Balkans there remain thousands of persons still unaccounted for as a result of the former conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. Of the more than 33,000 missing persons for whom tracing requests have been submitted to the ICRC since the outbreak of hostilities, 18,555 remain unaccounted for today – 13,862 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2,409 from Croatia and 2,284 from Kosovo respectively. Their families, living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia proper and Montenegro, continue to live in uncertainty and anguish hoping to receive news on their missing relatives. In order to remind the authorities and the public of the problems that they continue to face and appeal for the elucidation of the fate of their loved ones, the Kosovo Albanian families will gather in Pristina, the Kosovo Serb families in Gracanica, Serbian famili es in Belgrade, while Bosniac and Croatian family associations will get together in Zagreb on the occasion of this year's International Day of the Disappeared.

Acting as neutral intermediary, the ICRC is engaged in a dialogue with the authorities region-wide, in order to urge them to clarify the fate of missing persons, as well as to speed up the process of exhumation, identification, and return of the human remains to their bereaved families. While some progress has been noted in that respect, there is a clear need for a stronger commitment and engagement at the highest levels of government to fulfil their obligations under International Law in making available all reliable information that would lead to clarification of the fate of all remaining persons unaccounted for.

 For more information, please contact:  

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

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

 Sarajevo: Sanela Bajarambasic Tel: (++387 33) 72 17 80  

 Kosovo/Pristina: Idriz Gashi Mobile: (++377 44) 168 848