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United Kingdom: Red Cross launches photo exhibition and book on Balkan war missing

07-07-2010 News Release 10/125

London (ICRC) – Fifteen years on from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and 10 years after the end of the conflict in Kosovo, almost 15,000 people remain unaccounted for, and the families left behind are still suffering.


The Missing Lives photo exhibition and book, documenting the plight of 15 such families, has been launched today by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in partnership with the British Red Cross.

 Missing Lives pays tribute to the missing and their families. It is also designed to induce governments to do more to prevail upon the authorities in the Balkans to fulfil their responsibility to search for people still missing.

" It is unacceptable that thousands of people continue to be haunted by the unknown fate of their loved ones, " said Paul-Henri Arni, the ICRC project coordinator based in the Balkans. " Governments in this region still have to search through their wartime archives and come up with the information needed to find the mortal remains of those who went missing in order to hand them over to their families. Solving more cases of missing persons would certainly promote reconciliation and stability in the Balkans. "

The high-profile book and outdoor photo exhibition showcase the work of award-winning British photographer Nick Danziger and acclaimed Canadian author Rory MacLean. The exhibition is open to the public on the Riverside Walkway, South Bank, adjacent to the Oxo Tower. After the run in London closes, on 25 July, the exhibition will travel to 10 cities in the Balkans, Western Europe and North America.

According to Nev Jefferies, the head of international tracing and message services at the British Red Cross, " during armed conflicts, people can go missing in many ways. Civilian s can be abducted and imprisoned, soldiers and combatants might be killed and their bodies buried without a trace. Civilians – men, women and children – can become separated from their families while fleeing the fighting. The Red Cross works across the world to re-establish contact between separated family members and to determine the fate of the missing. "

In Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and neighbouring countries affected by the conflicts of the 1990s, the ICRC maintains its support for the families of the almost 15,000 people who are still listed as having disappeared during the hostilities. In addition, it collects information on missing persons and, together with the authorities, sets up mechanisms with the aim of obtaining more such information and sharing it with the families.

For further information, please contact:
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02
  Angela Hoyt, ICRC London, tel: +44 77 10 733 148
Simone Bresi-Ando, BRC London, tel: +44 (0) 2078777045


In 2009, the ICRC with significant support from National Societies, collected 253,764 and distributed 254,960 Red Cross messages , thus enabling members of families separated as a result of armed conflict, disturbances or tensions to exchange news. ICRC Annual Report 2009  

See also :

- Missing Lives – Book and photo exhibition  - Event programme  - How to order this publication  - Facebook page  - Facebook photo gallery  - Facebook event