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Kuwait: remains of 32 Iraqi soldiers repatriated

04-07-2011 News Release 11/147

Geneva/Kuwait/Baghdad (ICRC) – The remains of 32 Iraqi soldiers killed during the 1990-1991 Gulf War were repatriated today under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at the Abdaly/Safwan border crossing.

"It is essential that the families finally experience closure, even if they have to wait 20 years," said Gerard Peytrignet, head of ICRC regional delegation in Kuwait. ''Mothers, fathers, wives and other family members will finally be able to at least grieve at a tomb. The terrible uncertainty will finally be over.''

The remains were exhumed from a burial site on Kuwaiti soil near Abdaly by forensic technicians led by specialists from the Kuwait Crime Evidence Department. Officials representing Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights, Kuwait's National Committee for the Missing and Prisoner of War Affairs, and the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom in Kuwait witnessed the exhumation, as did delegates of the ICRC.

"This operation demonstrates the commitment of the parties concerned to do everything in their power to determine what happened to the people still unaccounted for, and to share the information obtained with the families," said Mr. Peytrignet.

The members of the Tripartite Commission, set up in 1991 under ICRC auspices and composed of representatives of Iraq, Kuwait and the 1990-1991 Coalition (the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Saudi Arabia) have committed themselves to reinforcing joint search and recovery activities for people who went missing in connection with the 1990-1991 war.

The Kuwaiti and Iraqi authorities cooperated fully in the repatriation operation. In its role as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC placed delegates on both sides of the border to ensure that the handover proceeded smoothly.

Under international humanitarian law, the families have a right to know what happened to their missing relatives. The parties to the conflict must search for persons reported missing and provide information for the families.

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +22 730 25 41 ou +79 536 92 57
Fouad Bawaba, ICRC Kuwait, tel: +965 77 87 94 34
Marie-Claire Feghali, ICRC Iraq, tel : +964 790 191 6927