News 30 Aug 16

Over 10,000 Still Missing from Yugoslav Wars

There are still 10,653 missing persons in the former Yugoslavia but the process of finding them is being hampered by divisions between countries in the region, the Serbian authorities warned.

Milivoje Pantovic
Family members pay their respects at the monument to missing persons in Belgrade. Photo: BIRN/Milivoje Pantovic.

To mark the International Day of the Disappeared on Tuesday, Serbian officials and missing persons associations told a press conference in Belgrade that finding the 10,653 people who disappeared during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s remains a critical priority.

The head of Serbian Commission for Missing Persons, Veljko Odalovic, claimed that the process of identifying missing persons in neighbouring countries was flawed.

He also said that more than 4,000 of the missing are Serbs.

“Serbia has faced its problem with missing persons on its territory, however Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo have not coped with this problem. We are asking that the missing persons be found and that there is no segregation of the victims,” Odalovic told the press conference.

He said that a meeting with his Croatian counterparts that was planned for July did not take place, and claimed that there was no will in Croatia to find missing Serbs’ bodies and prosecute those responsible for their deaths.

He also said there were problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina with finding missing persons because different institutions were controlled by different ethnic groups.

“When it comes to Kosovo, we do hope that the international community will pressurise it to be more dedicated to this problem,” he added.

“The problem of missing persons needs to be resolved because it is a path towards the normalisation of relationships in the region. Serbia is sharing its information on missing persons and we do hope that others will be more cooperative,” he said.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Monday that missing persons remain one of the gravest wounds that the war in Kosovo inflicted, and insisted the authorities were committed to resolving the issue.


Pristina has often accused the Belgrade authorities of non-cooperation in finding mass graves where Kosovo Albanians killed by Serbian forces are buried.

Dragan Pjevac, a member of Serbia’s Coalition for Missing Persons, told the press conference that 144 graves in Croatia have yet to be exhumed.

“Despite that, it is known that in the last two years in Croatia there were no exhumations of grave sites and in Kosovo during that time, there were only four,” said Pjevac.

He said that his coalition has sympathy with all innocent victims in the region regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

The coalition addressed a letter to Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic urging him to do more to help find the remaining missing persons, also arguing that it could help to normalise relations in the region.

After the press conference, some of the families of the missing walked to a monument to missing Serbs from the 1990s wars in Tasmajdan Park in Belgrade, carrying red roses as symbols of their loss.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

news 30 Jan 18

Kosovo Urges Wartime Rape Survivors to Register

Feature 06 Dec 17

Croatians Struggle to Regain Property Confiscated in WWII

News 20 Nov 17

War Rape Victim Sues Croatian Ministry

News 02 Oct 17

US Court Dismisses Croatian WWII Victims’ Lawsuit

news 08 Sep 17

Montenegro Offers Compensation to War Crime Victims

News 01 Sep 17

Croatian WWII Victims’ Lawsuit Takes Bizarre Turn

News 15 Aug 17

Serbia’s Plan for Post-WWII Restitution ‘Flawed’