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Georgians and Abkhazis meet to clarify fate of persons missing from 1992-93 armed conflict

09-12-2010 News Release 10/226

Geneva (ICRC) – Abkhaz and Georgian participants in a newly created coordination mechanism met on 9 December under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to discuss the issue of persons unaccounted for since 1992-1993.

The meeting, which took place in the ICRC office in Kiev, aimed to determine what happened to people who went missing during the conflict.

"Discussions were constructive, and all participants showed a willingness to resolve this sensitive and very important humanitarian issue," said Djordje Drndarski, the ICRC's deputy head of operations for Eastern Europe. "Up to 2,000 people are still unaccounted for as a result of the conflict, and, 18 years on, families still need to know what happened to their loved ones. Not knowing the fate of a son, father or husband results in insurmountable pain, and people are left unable to grieve properly or to move on with their lives. This meeting is a first step towards providing concrete answers, and we hope that there will be significant progress."

Participants agreed to set up a joint working group that will start work as soon as possible and meet regularly. The ICRC welcomes this move and calls on the participants to do everything in their power to find out what happened to those who went missing during the conflict and to provide the families with information. Under international humanitarian law, families have the right to know what has happened to missing relatives.

The ICRC, which convened the meeting, is serving as a neutral intermediary in accordance with its mandate under the Geneva Conventions. For many years now, the organization has facilitated the exchange of information between all parties, provided support for family associations and assisted them with data collection.

For further information, please contact:
Vassily Fadeev, tel: +41 79 536 92 48
Maia Kardava, tel: +995 91 600 685
Boris Kazanba, tel: +79409215373