Senior Deputy High Representative Martin Ney said he was deeply moved by the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) after he visited the organization’s Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla on Thursday morning.More than 3,000 body-bags containing mortal remains recovered from grave sites associated with the 1995 fall of Srebrenica are stored at the facility. Identification of Srebrenica-related remains is difficult because of the large number of victims, the time that has passed and because the bodies were severely damaged when they were moved and re-buried in “secondary” mass graves by the perpetrators in an effort to hide evidence of the killings.
The Podrinje Identification Project, named after the River Drina basin in which Srebrenica victims were buried, was established in 1999 as a facility to store and examine the remains. When ICMP’s DNA matching has indicated the identity of a missing Srebrenica victim, the ICMP forensic pathologist conducts the ante-mortem and post-mortem data comparisons, inspects the remains and makes the final, official identification at the Podrinje Identification Project.
“Today, I witnessed first-hand the reality of the missing persons issue. Through its work in providing irrefutable evidence of identity, ICMP is giving family members the closure they deserve,” said Ambassador Ney following the visit. “It is important for everyone to face up to the truth about what happened and for the authorities to deal with the issue of the missing in a responsible manner. This is a pre-requisite for reconciliation, a process so important for this country,” he added.
So far, ICMP has identified 2,178 Srebrenica victims, enabling their families arrange a proper burial for them.
“Years of uncertainty for surviving family members are cruel and the families deserve all the help we can give. But they also need the support of the authorities, who need to commit to addressing the issue of the missing so that family members and the society as a whole can turn to the future more easily”, Ambassador Ney said.