Georgia / Abkhazia: More work being done to solve cases of missing people

03 March 2017

ICRC (Tbilisi) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has chaired a meeting of the coordination mechanism for clarifying the fate and whereabouts of people who have been missing since the conflict of 1992–93 in Abkhazia and its aftermath.

Georgian and Abkhaz participants gathered in Yerevan, Armenia, on 2 March 2017 to discuss the progress made in identifying human remains recovered in recent years, and the plans for the coordination mechanism in 2017.

Since the mechanism was set up in 2010, progress has been significant: the remains of 234 people were recovered between 2013 and 2016 alone. The forensic identification process takes time, but the remains of 100 people have already been identified and returned to their families.

During the meeting participants agreed, however, that more needed to be done to make the process move more quickly. "Given that there are still over 2,300 individuals unaccounted for more than 20 years after the conflict ended, the decision has been taken to step up the pace of the work in 2017. There are plans to investigate 30 potential gravesites this year. The families should not have to wait any longer," said Séverine Chappaz, the ICRC's operations coordinator for Europe and Central Asia.

The ICRC will expand its support to the local authorities, making available its expertise while continuing to ensure that international standards are upheld.

Meetings of the coordination mechanism are chaired by the ICRC by virtue of its neutral, impartial and independent mandate. The mechanism functions on a purely humanitarian basis and exists to address families' right to know what happened to their missing loved ones.

For further information, please contact:
Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, +995 5 99 55 88 18
Jenny Tobias, ICRC Geneva +41 79 536 92 48