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Armenia: fate of over 4,500 people not yet clarified

30-08-2010 News Release 10/161

Yerevan (ICRC) – Sixteen years after a ceasefire agreement was signed that put an end to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, the psychological, economic and legal impact of the conflict on the families of missing persons is still acutely felt, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today.

The International Day of the Disappeared, marked worldwide on 30 August, draws attention to the difficulties faced by families of missing persons throughout the world and to their right to know what happened to their loved ones.

" Not only do family members need to find out what happened to their missing relatives, they also need to deal with specific psychological, economic and legal problems, " said Kebir Raoloson, Head of the ICRC Delegation in Armenia.

The issue of people who went missing in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict and the needs of the families have been a matter of concern for the ICRC since it began working in Armenia in 1992. To this day, the fate of over 4,500 people is still not clarified.

A survey undertaken by the ICRC to gain insight into how the disappearances have affected the families of the missing revealed that most such families suffer more than other Armenian families from poverty and unemployment. This is because they have lost assets while searching for their missing relatives and forgone opportunities for improving their economic circumstances. In addition, they have had to struggle with the psychological trauma caused by the disappearances.

The ICRC is hopeful that more attention will be focused on the situation of families of missing persons and that more will be done to address their needs.

" The creation of a proper legislative basis would allow for alleviation of the situation that the families of missing persons very often find themselves in,” said Dziunik Aghajanian, an adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs heading the inter-ministe rial working group drafting a new Missing Persons Act.

" In order to consolidate all collected detailed data on missing persons, the State Commission will start data entry into a special Database, " said Armen Kaprielyan, head of a working group of the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons.

The ICRC will continue to support the Armenian authorities in their efforts to address the needs of families of missing persons.

For further information, please contact :
  Rouzanna Vardanyan, ICRC Armenia, tel: +37 410 29 74 15