News release

Human Rights Day: 100 trees dedicated to the missing persons in former Yugoslavia

ICRC plants saplings in the memory of those who went missing during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia during 1990s

Belgrade (ICRC) – To mark Human Rights Day, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today planted 100 saplings as a tribute to those who are still missing in the former Yugoslavia in connection with the conflict that first broke out in 1991.

Since 1991, when the first conflict broke out in former Yugoslavia, 35,015 requests have been made by families of those who disappeared. Till date, families of 25,012 people have received answers about their beloved ones but the whereabouts of 10,003 people remains unknown.

To accelerate the process of resolving the remaining cases and insisting on the humanitarian dimension of the issue, two years ago the ICRC launched its five-year plan in this regard. As part of the plan, search was expanded to include information in the archives of international organizations and military units present on the ground during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia as it could lead to the discovery of the remains of missing people.

While the whereabouts of 111 people were found and identified in 2018, last year the number rose to 218. But this year, it's only been 43 so far.

"The trees are a tribute to those missing from 1990s and a reminder to us all that we should do more to help the families and communities that are still waiting for answers to achieve closure, deal with the past and move forward. Each of those 100 saplings planted today are powerful and honourable monuments in memory of the loved ones, their families and a poignant way of remembering them. We thank the city authorities of Belgrade for joining us in marking the memory of the missing persons and granting this beautiful space so that these trees can serve as reminders of life and have deep meaning for their families," said Ms Jelena Stijacic, head of the ICRC regional delegation in Belgrade.

The ICRC strongly urges the authorities from the region and other international actors to make further efforts and look in their archives and documents that are available from that time to find information that could help find as many missing people as possible.

For further information, please contact:

Sanja Ivanis, ICRC Belgrade, tel.: + 381 11 228 55 52 or +381 64 8444 440