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Serbia / Kosovo: more progress needed to clarify fate of Kosovo missing

03-06-2009 News Release 09/114

Belgrade (ICRC) – Authorities from Belgrade and Pristina have pledged to do more to address the problem of persons unaccounted for in connection with the events that took place in Kosovo between January 1998 and December 2000. The commitment was made during today's meeting in Belgrade of the working group on people unaccounted for in Kosovo, which is chaired by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

During the meeting, both sides provided information on potential new gravesites that may contain the remains of missing persons, and reaffirmed their resolve to further address this pressing humanitarian issue. According to the working group's provisional list, the number of persons unaccounted for in connection with the Kosovo conflict stands at 1,904. In June 2007, the figure stood at 2,047.

" There has been progress in terms of the quality and usefulness of the information exchanged between the working group delegations, " said the ICRC's Caroline Tissot, who chairs the working group. " However, both sides still have to do more to provide concrete answers to the families anxious to know what happened to their loved ones. "

At the request of the working group members, the ICRC has obtained access to international archives, in particular those held at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, which may contain information that sheds light on what happened to those who went missing.

In addition to the delegations from Belgrade and Pristina, today's working group meeting was attended by representatives of the European Union, Germany, the International Commission for Missing Persons, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Russia and the United States, and by representatives of family associations and the Red Cross. The working group's last meeting took place in Pristina in March 2009.

For further information, please contact:
  Gordana Milenkovic, ICRC Belgrade, tel: +381 11 228 55 51
  Idriz Gashi, ICRC Pristina, tel: +381 38 249 114