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Iraq/Iran/Kuwait: never-ending uncertainty for those seeking missing relatives

27-08-2009 News Release 09/172

Baghdad/Tehran/Geneva (ICRC) – The families of hundreds of thousands of people who went missing in past wars in the Gulf region need continued support in their quest to find out what happened to their loved ones, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today.

Marking the International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August, the ICRC said families in Iraq longed to obtain news of those who vanished in the armed conflict that broke out in 2003 and in other armed violence over recent decades, while families in Iraq, Iran and Kuwait still hoped to discover what happened to their fathers, brothers and sons who went missing during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

" This never-ending uncertainty is a source of immense anguish for families in all three countries, " said Beatrice Mégévand, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East and North Africa. " They want to know and they have a right to know what happened to their missing relatives, even if it means having it confirmed that they are dead. "

In an effort to determine what befell people missing in connection with recent conflicts in the region, the ICRC has been providing support for the authorities and for forensic experts, especially in Iraq and Iran. Where necessary, the ICRC has provided training, supplied equipment and repaired facilities. In addition, it has facilitated the exchange of information relating to missing persons between the countries concerned.

" It's a blessing that I saw my son and buried him, " said Sabria, an Iraqi mother who retrieved the mortal remains of her son, who went missing during the Iran-Iraq war, in November 2008. " Now he is in a cemetery and I will be buried beside him. "

The ICRC calls on the authorities concerned to do everything in their power, in accordance with international humanitarian law, to clarify what happened to those who went missing in armed conflict and to provide the families with any information they obtain.

  For further information, please contact:
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Iraq, tel: +962 65 52 39 94 or +962 777 399 614
  Fouad Bawaba, ICRC Kuwait, tel: +965 997 87 94 34
  John Strick Van Linschoten, ICRC Tehran, tel: +98 21 8878 67 23 or + 98 912 313 60 04
  See also TV news footage