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Iran/Iraq: striving to end uncertainty for families of war missing

22-05-2012 News Release 12/110

Geneva/Tehran/Baghdad (ICRC) – The mortal remains of 98 Iranian and 13 Iraqi soldiers killed during the 1980-1988 war between the two countries were repatriated today at the Shalamja border crossing near Basra with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The exchange of remains took place at the end of a fourth joint Iran-Iraq mission in Al Fao peninsula, on Iraqi soil, from 16 April to 16 May. This brings to 557 the number of people whose remains have been returned to their home countries with ICRC help since 2008.

The ICRC regularly provides support for the efforts of the Iranian and Iraqi authorities to account for those who went missing during the war. In addition to providing technical advice and forensic expertise, it serves as a neutral intermediary between the two States.

"There are families who have been waiting for decades to know the fate of their relatives. The cooperation of the Iraqi authorities, through their Ministry of Human Rights, and of the Iranian authorities has made it possible to press ahead with the search for human remains," said Pamela Stathakis of the ICRC delegation in Iraq. “According to international humanitarian law, those families have the right to know what has happened to their loved ones.”

In the four joint missions which have taken place between November 2011 and May 2012, the remains of 529 people, including 218 during the mission just completed, have so far been exhumed.

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
Mojgan Mohammad, ICRC Tehran, tel: +98 919 830 11 61
Claire Aude Kaplun , ICRC Baghdad, tel: +964 780 9131626