Abuja (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) begins a two-day consultative forum on forensic services and management of human remains in Abuja today.
High representatives of the ministries of Interior, Health and Justice, as well as those of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and Nigerian Police Force officiated at the opening of the meeting, during which 35 representatives of relevant Nigerian agencies will discuss proper management of human remains during armed conflict, violence and other disasters.
"The effective search, recovery and identification of human remains is one of the most difficult aspects of humanitarian response in disasters and armed conflict. It follows different prescribed, but also cultural and societal practices, and is often subject to emotions" says Karl Anton Matli, ICRC Head of Delegation in Nigeria. "The search for the missing can cause mental distress and legal problems for relatives of the victims. This is why it is so important to get the process right".
The meeting seeks to determine a baseline for existing capacities in the field of forensic medicine and the management of human remains in Nigeria. It also aims to identify main stakeholders who can define responsibilities and create sustainable synergies when it comes to mass fatality incidents and armed violence.
"The Government of Nigeria is establishing a centralised database of missing persons to help those looking for their loved ones. This initiative complements the work of the forensics in an effort to ensure that the missing and dead are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve," said Maryam Uwais, Chair of the National Technical Committee for Missing Persons and one of the main stakeholders at the meeting.
Stakeholders from the Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria armed forces and the National Emergency Management Authority are also participating in the forum.
The ICRC is committed to protecting the lives and dignity of persons affected by armed conflicts and other situations of violence. Its forensic services are offered through technical support and training to relevant authorities of countries ravaged by conflicts.
For further information, please contact:
Aleksandra Matijevic Mosimann, ICRC Abuja,
tel: +234 706 418 90 02 or +234 703 595 41 68