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Kosovo: ICRC to chair working group on missing persons

27-02-2004 News Release 04/24

The ICRC has accepted an invitation from the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Kosovo, Mr Harri Holkeri, to chair a working group on missing persons. The working group is one of four set up as part of the process of direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina government representatives initiated in Vienna in October 2003.

The ICRC accepted this new role only when it was clear that all parties involved in the working group supported the idea, and on condition that chairing the group would not in any way conflict with the organization’s humanitarian mandate or compromise its status as a neutral intermediary.

In a letter of acceptance conveyed to Mr Holkeri in Pristina yesterday, the ICRC explained that it is “motivated strictly by humanitarian concerns” in taking on this role.

The ICRC has extensive experience of dealing with the problem of missing people and the plight of their families in the Balkans going back over 12 years. It maintains a database of people who are looking for missing relatives, provides them with psychosocial and legal support, visits detainees and assists in the identification of human remains. Most importantly, it constantly reminds the authorities of their obligation to clarify the fate of missing people.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 2063 or ++41 79 217 3216