Georgia/South Ossetia: remains exhumed under ICRC auspices
12-04-2011 News Release 11/89
Geneva/Tbilisi/Tskhinvali/Tskhinval (ICRC) – The mortal remains of a person who went missing in connection with the August 2008 hostilities were exhumed today in Tskhinvali/Tskhinval under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The operation took place within the framework of a tripartite mechanism with Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian participants set up in February 2010 to coordinate the exchange of information likely to shed light on the fate of persons unaccounted for during and after the fighting.
"To clarify the fate of missing persons it is essential that we recover and identify mortal remains. The families need to know what happened to their loved ones. They need to be able to bury them with dignity and mourn them properly," said Pascale Meige Wagner, the ICRC's head of operations for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. "This first exhumation is a very positive development in the work of the coordination mechanism. We encourage the participants to advance further in resolving this important humanitarian issue."
The exhumation was attended by ICRC representatives who made sure that it was conducted in conformity with international standards. In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC facilitated the transfer of the remains to the Georgian national forensic bureau in Tbilisi.
"It is not yet possible to know the identity of the person whose remains were exhumed today," said Megan Bassendale, an ICRC forensic adviser. "That can only be established after a full skeletal analysis and, if necessary, genetic testing. As soon as the work is completed, all those concerned, and primarily the person's family, will be duly informed of the results and the remains will be handed over to them."
In the operation to exhume and transfer the mortal remains, the ICRC served as a neutral intermediary in accordance with its mandate. The ICRC helped set up the coordination mechanism, which it provides with technical expertise and other support, in addition to chairing its meetings.
For further information, please contact:
Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, tel: +995 91 600 685
Monique Nanchen, ICRC Moscow, tel: +7 495 626 5426
Vassily Fadeev, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 9248