Remains of five people, considered missing due to 1992–93 armed conflict, identified

Tbilisi (ICRC) – The family members of five people who were unaccounted for in connection with the 1992–1993 armed conflict in Abkhazia have been informed that their loved ones were identified with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The remains of these five individuals were recovered during excavations carried out under the lead of the ICRC in 2018–2020 in Sukhumi and Gagra.

This was made possible within the framework of the Coordination Mechanism on Persons Unaccounted for in Connection with the Events of 1992-1993-Armed Conflict and After, which has operated under the auspices of the ICRC since 2010 and involves both Abkhaz and Georgian participants. The Mechanism is of a purely humanitarian nature and acts on behalf of the families of missing persons.

The identified remains were transferred from the National Forensic Bureau in Tbilisi to a church for a farewell ceremony and prayer. Sophio Elizbarashvili/ICRC

The remains will be handed over to the families for the funeral ceremony on 13 and 14 August in Tbilisi. "These families have received some answers, but over 2,300 still do not know anything about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones," said Severine Chappaz, head of the ICRC's delegation in Georgia.

"In order to make the search and identification process more effective and extend all possible and sustainable support to the families, a greater engagement of all former parties to the conflicts is required. The ICRC Envoy on the Missing Persons in the Caucasus, appointed in February, is currently in discussion with all sides on how to make this happen."

"Beyond 2021, the sides should progressively take over tasks currently done by the ICRC and strengthen the role and capacity of the two existing Coordination Mechanisms gathering Abkhaz, Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian participants under the auspices of the ICRC."

"These two steps would ensure a more efficient and sustainable response for the families of the missing persons in the long term and create new opportunities for regular dialogue. It would also open a space for sharing good practices with sides to other conflicts in the Caucasus, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Since the inception of the two coordination mechanisms in 2010 (one working in connection with the 1992–93 armed conflict in Abkhazia and the other with the conflicts of 1990s and 2008 of South Ossetia), remains of 589 persons have been recovered, out of which 211 have been identified and handed over to their families.

In total, 2,345 people, including military personnel and civilians, are still reported as missing in connection with the armed conflicts of 1990s and August 2008.

For further information, please contact:

Sophio Elizbarashvili, ICRC Tbilisi, tel.: +995 599 50 14 64