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Iraq: progress in clarifying fate of former POWs missing after Iran-Iraq war

11-06-2008 News Release 08/99

Baghdad (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the government of the Republic of Iraq, represented by its minister for human rights, today signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at helping to clarify the fate of prisoners of war still missing after the Iran-Iraq conflict (1980-1988).

" Hundreds of Iraqi and Iranian families have been waiting anxiously for news of their missing loved ones, some for almost 30 years now " , said Juan-Pedro Schaerer, head of the ICRC's delegation for Iraq. " It's essential for those families to settle the question once and for all. Even if the result means finding out that their loved one is dead, that is still better than the agony of never-ending uncertainty. "

The memorandum sets out procedures that will establish a constructive and practical bilateral mechanism between the Geneva-based organization and Iraqi government to shed light on the fate of persons who were once registered by the ICRC as Iraqi and Iranian prisoners of war and who remain unaccounted for.

The ICRC signed an equivalent agreement with the Iranian government in February 2004, laying the basis for a joint approach to the problem.

" Thanks to the efforts of both governments, many families have received the answers they seek, " said Jamila Hammami, an ICRC delegate. " But it's sad to see so many other families still suffering acutely from uncertainty. Much more needs to be done. "

In its role as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC is striving to find answers for Iraqi and Iranian families by maintaining close dialogue with both governments.

For further information, please contact:
  Hicham Hassan, ICRC Iraq, tel: +962 777 399 614 or +962 6 552 39 94
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18