The International Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP, have met the Bosnian authorities to discuss ways of bringing its mission to an end, now that 70 per cent of those missing have successfully been identified.
The ICMP Chairman, Thomas Miller, has met Vjekoslav Bevanda, the Bosnian Prime Minister, in Sarajevo to discuss the past successes of the mission and ways of bringing it to an end, now that 70 per cent of the Commission’s work, which started in 1996, has been completed.
Miller, a former US Ambassador to Bosnia and Hercegovina, told a press conference after the meeting on Wednesday that the ICMP worked very closely with the families of missing people in order to identify the victims.
“I am very proud of the ICMP’s mission,” Miller said, “That is an issue of humanity...bringing closure to families who lost their beloved ones...and the issue of ethnicity is irrelevant there.”
Bevanda, the Bosnian Prime Minister, said he engaged the relevant government ministries to prepare for the time when they would take over the responsibilities of the ICMP, once its mission was wound up in Bosnia
“Bosnia is not a priority anymore and the focus of the ICMP has moved onto other regions as most of the work here has been completed,” Bevanda said.
“We talked about how to continue with its work here,” he noted, “It is our obligation to do all we can to help the families of victims to know the truth about their beloved ones.”
The ICMP was established due to an initiative by the former US President Clinton in 1996, and its primary role is to ensure the cooperation of governments in locating and identifying those who have disappeared during an armed conflict or as a result of human rights violations.
According to ICMP figures, 40,000 people were missing, presumed dead, at the end of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
An estimated 30,000 disappeared during the war in Bosnia. Five and half thousands went missing during the war in Croatia, 4,400 during the Kosovo conflict, and 23 persons disappeared during the 2001 crisis in Macedonia.
Today the number of those missing across the region is roughly 14,000.
Around 10,000 victims of the Bosnian war are still missing, 2,000 victims of the Croatian war, 900 in the Kosovo conflict and 13 in Macedonia.
The ICMP has developed a database of relatives of missing people, and more than 36,000 bone samples have been taken from the remains exhumed from clandestine graves in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.