EU helps families find their missing relatives

EU helps families find their missing relatives

Three million euro is the value of the grant the European union dedicated to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), a treaty-based International organization headquartered in the Hague, under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) 2016. This grant will be spent for a two-year project to continue helping the BiH authorities to locate and identify the estimated more than 7 000 persons who are still missing from the 1992-95 conflict.

The biggest benefit, however, will be the fact that families of these persons would finally find out what was happened with their sons, brothers, sisters, fathers and other relatives. According to ICMP, after the end of war in BiH more than 30 000 persons was considered missing. Now that number is more than 7 000; a large number is identified by DNA and few thousands was identified by traditional methods.

Under the EU-funded project, ICMP will continue to help the authorities in BIH address the interrelated issues of unidentified remains held in BiH mortuaries and misidentifications that occurred before ICMP introduced DNA testing in 2001. ICMP will maintain Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology activities and will continue to deliver DNA matching and identification. It will also seek to ensure increased use of its Online Inquiry Center (OIC) by individuals and organizations in BiH.

“Previous EU funds have been a significant factor in enabling ICMP to help the authorities in BIH account for more 23 000 persons – more than 75 percent of all those who went missing during the conflict”, said Matthew Holliday, Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans program.

He added that at least 7 000 are still missing and that’s why it is critical that continued financial support is made available so that ICMP can maintain its assistance to BiH to search for and identify the missing and fulfill the rights of the families of the missing.

The Head of the EU Delegation to BIH and EU Special Representative in BiH, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, said during his visit to ICMP Sarajevo that helping the authorities to fulfil their obligations to families of the missing is common moral duty. It will also, as he said, contribute to efforts to strengthen the rule of law, and support peace and stability in the country. “From an enlargement perspective, the ICMP project will help to address concerns that were raised in the European Commission’s 2016 BiH Country Report, which characterized the unresolved fate of missing persons as an issue of concern”, Wigemark said.

RS associations that represent families of missing persons are still unsatisfied with the work of the ICMP, stating that experts of this Institute are more dedicated to the identification of Bosniak victims and that Serb victims are neglected. For this situation they blame Amor Masovic, member of the Board of Directors in ICMP Sarajevo office who, according to their opinion is trying to obstruct the process of search for missed Serbs./IBNA