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Azerbaijan: families of missing gather for commemoration

30-08-2010 News Release 10/160

Baku (ICRC) – Families of people missing in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, together with representatives of local authorities, the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) gathered in Baku, Sumgayit, Sabirabad, Ganja, Mingachevir and Lankaran cities to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared (30 August).

" Although 16 years have passed since the ceasefire agreement, the fate of over 4,500 missing persons is still unclear, " said Martin Agure Oguya, an ICRC tracing delegate based in Azerbaijan. " The suffering is enormous for the wives, mothers and children – indeed for all those left behind – many of whom live in a state of permanent anxiety, constantly longing for news of their loved ones. "

The fact that people go missing in situations of conflict is a great humanitarian tragedy that affects not only those who vanish but also their families and entire communities.

" We invited some of the families of the missing from all over the country to take part in events close to their homes held in cooperation with Azerbaijani Red Crescent regional centres, " said Mr Oguya. " A booklet, Moments of Eternity, which consists of photographs of personal items brought by families to similar events held last year that tell stories about the people they belonged to, was unveiled. The publication is intended to raise awareness of the issue of missing people. "

The ICRC is working together with the Azerbaijani authorities to set up mechanisms to help determine what befell the people who went missing. The ICRC's role, based on the mandate conferred on it by the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, is purely humanitarian: to help the families find out what happened to their missing loved ones. In Azerbaijan, the ICRC and the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan are continuing a nationwide effort to collect data on people still missing in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict. The information gathered will be handed over in mid-2011 to the State Commission on Missing, Prisoners of War and Hostages that centralizes all such data. After that, the ICRC's continuing support for the authorities'efforts will focus on providing expertise when requested and on addressing needs of the families of missing people.

For further information, please contact:
  Ilaha Huseynova, ICRC Baku, tel: +(+99 412) 465.63.35
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02