Kosovo: 19 years after conflict, over 1,600 people still missing

27 April 2018
Kosovo: 19 years after conflict, over 1,600 people still missing
On the National Day of Missing Persons, the families of missing persons gathered to pay tribute to the graves of their loved ones in Meja village, Gjakovë/Djakovica municipality. ICRC / Jetmir Duraku

Pristina (ICRC) – A significant slowdown in the process of resolving cases has meant that over 1,600 families continue to endlessly wait for their loved ones who went missing nearly two decades ago.

Marking the occasion of the National Day of the Disappeared, Agim Gashi, the head of mission for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kosovo, said, "We take this opportunity to once again pay tribute to the families who struggle with and face the despair of not knowing what happened to their loved ones. On their behalf, we urge the authorities to increase their efforts in solving this humanitarian problem that continues to affect Kosovo even two decades down the line."

Concerned about the declining rate at which these cases had been resolved over the recent years, Mr Gashi said while 11 cases were solved in 2017, the whereabouts of only four people had been traced so far this year.

"The main obstacle to a swifter progress is the lack of information that could lead to uncovering new grave site locations," he said.

As a consequence of the 1998–1999 Kosovo armed conflict and its aftermath, 6,057 persons were reported missing to the ICRC. While the tracing process has yielded results, enabling the families of 4,407 people to find solace, it is a small consolation for the families of close to 1,650 missing people as they continue to live in uncertainty.

Under international humanitarian law, the former parties to the conflict bear the prime responsibility to provide answers about the whereabouts of people gone missing on territories under their control.

For further information, please contact:
Albiona Musliu, ICRC Pristina, tel.: + 383 38 220 384 114 or +377 44 195 664