Georgia/South Ossetia: Ninth meeting held in Ergneti to seek answers on fate of missing persons from conflicts of 1990s and 2008

10 February 2016

ICRC – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has chaired the ninth meeting of the coordination mechanism for clarifying the fate and whereabouts of people who have been missing since the conflicts of the 1990s and August 2008 and their aftermath.

Georgian, South Ossetian and Russian participants gathered near the village of Ergneti last Friday, 5 February to discuss what must be done for the families of missing persons, to finally find out what happened to their loved ones.

Since the mechanism was set up in 2010, with the technical and financial support of the ICRC, the mortal remains of 14 people who died in the 2008 conflict have been recovered. Out of these, 6 have been identified and handed over to their families; the other 8 have yet to be identified.

Séverine Chappaz, the ICRC Chair of the Mechanism, said: "The more time passes, the more difficult it will be to find out what happened to the 183 people who are still missing. For some families, over 25 years have gone by without news. Some relatives have died without ever knowing what happened to their loved ones or being able to give them a proper burial. We cannot afford to wait any longer."

All participants expressed readiness to act swiftly and, with the ICRC's support and in conformance with existing best practices, take concrete steps towards the implementation of a number of priorities set at the meeting concerning potential gravesites. They also agreed to continue working on collecting and exchanging information through the coordination mechanism in order to determine the fate and whereabouts of missing persons.

The ICRC chairs the meetings by virtue of its neutral, impartial and independent mandate, and seeks to ensure that the mechanism remains free from any political agenda. This is in the best interest of the families and the key to the mechanism's success.

For further information, please contact:
Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, +995 5 99 55 88 18
Marina Tedeti, ICRC Tskhinval/i +7 929 807 93 64
Victoria Zotikova, ICRC Moscow , + 7 (495) 626 5426
Jenny Tobias, ICRC Geneva +41 79 536 92 48