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Kosovo: Meeting of Working Group on missing persons

22-02-2005 News Release 05/12

Belgrade/Pristina (ICRC) – On 10 March the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will convene a meeting of the Working Group on persons unaccounted for in relation to the events in Kosovo between January 1998 and December 2000.

The meeting, to be held in Belgrade, will bring together representatives of the authorities in Belgrade and Pristina and various observers. The Working Group met only once before, in early March 2004.

The ICRC decided to hold the meeting after the authorities on both sides expressed their readiness to elucidate the fate of nearly 3,000 persons who are still missing. The Working Group meets under the auspices of the special representative of the United Nations secretary-general in Kosovo, Søren Jessen-Petersen, and is chaired by the ICRC, acting as a neutral intermediary.

The families of the missing have been waiting for news for many years now. They have a right to know what happened to their loved ones, and the authorities concerned have a responsibility to do everything in their power to resolve this pressing issue.

The ICRC has long experience in dealing with the problem of missing persons and the plight of their families around the world, including in the former Yugoslavia. It collects data on the missing and continuously reminds the authorities concerned of their obligation to elucidate the fate of these people and inform their families. The ICRC also provides psychosocial and legal support for the families and assists in the identification of human remains.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Idriz Gashi, ICRC Pristina, tel.: ++381 38 228 400 / ++377 44 168 848  

 Gordana Milenkovic, ICRC Belgrade, tel.: ++381 11 344 15 22  

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