German Government Supports ICMP in Iraq

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The German Government and the International Commission on Missing Persons today launched a new initiative to address the issue of missing and disappeared persons in Iraq. The project will focus on supporting ICMP’s work with the domestic authorities to secure and excavate mass graves in Sinjar and it may be extended to cover mass graves elsewhere in Iraq. Work will begin immediately.

ICMP is already helping authorities in Iraq to locate and identify thousands of people who were killed after Islamic State occupied the town of Sinjar in Northern Iraq in August 2014. The town was retaken by Kurdish forces in November 2015.

ICMP’s current work involves helping the authorities to strengthen operational and technical capacities, including providing training in mass grave exhumations, crime scene management, and mortuary procedures; providing guidance on effective operational planning, inter-agency cooperation and chain of custody; upgrading mortuary facilities;…

One Million Candles for the Missing in Iraq

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Today, to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, ICMP’s Iraq program has organized a social media campaign to light a million virtual candles representing missing persons in Iraq.

“Today is an important day throughout the world, but it’s especially important in Iraq,” said the Head of ICMP’s Iraq program Trefor Williams. “Up to one million persons are believed to have gone missing in Iraq in the last 40 years, more than in any other country in the world.”

ICMP has been engaged in Iraq since 2003, working with the authorities to strengthen operational and technical capacities, including providing training in mass grave exhumations, crime scene management, and mortuary procedures; providing guidance on effective operational planning, inter-agency cooperation and chain of custody; and upgrading mortuary facilities. ICMP has also worked with families of the missing to help…

12,000 candles for the missing

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Today, in order to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, ICMP’s Western Balkans program organized a social media campaign to light 12,000 virtual candles representing missing persons in the Western Balkans.

Also, in cooperation with associations of families of the missing and the Ministry for Refugees and Human Rights, ICMP organized an event in Sarajevo. Silhouettes symbolizing missing persons were erected in the Square of Sarajevo Children, and passersby were invited to write messages and place them on the installations. Volunteers and families distributed information about the effort to account for the missing, and urged the authorities to accelerate the process and to become more engaged in marking the International Day of the Disappeared.

“ICMP has spearheaded the effort to account for the 40,000 persons who were missing at the end of the conflict,” said Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans…

Light a Candle for the Missing

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Today, in order to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, ICMP organized a global social media campaign to light virtual candles representing persons missing around the world.

“Every year, millions of people around the world go missing because of conflict, human rights abuses, people trafficking, migration, disasters or other causes,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “Thousands have gone missing as a result of the Mediterranean migration crisis in the last two years, and that is one area where the international community must develop a coordinated approach. The number of persons who have disappeared because of atrocities and human rights violations in Iraq is another area where a focused, rule-of-law approach is required.”

ICMP is preparing to launch an initiative with the International Organization on Migration and other agencies to assess the number of migrants who are going missing and set in place measures…

ICMP Introduces Restructured Missing Persons Online Inquiry Center

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The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today announced the launch of its restructured Online Inquiry Center (OIC). The OIC is an interactive missing persons search tool that makes it possible to provide or obtain information about a missing person. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

“The OIC is a unique and invaluable tool that gives stakeholders – including families of the missing and those who are responsible for locating and identifying missing persons – access to ICMP’s database, which currently contains information on around 40,000 missing persons,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “We have expanded the number of language versions and we have made the software easier to use. We believe this is a substantial and strategic contribution to the effort to account for missing persons around the world.”

The OIC can now be accessed in English, Arabic, Spanish, Albanian,…

ICMP welcomes Colombia peace agreement

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The Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, today welcomed the announcement of a definitive agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) to end five decades of armed conflict. The final agreement recognizes the rights of victims of the conflict, including the rights of families of the missing and disappeared.

“The conclusion of the negotiations is a historic step on Colombia’s long and difficult road to peace,” Ms. Bomberger said. “ICMP is committed to working with families of the missing, the authorities and others in Colombia to ensure that the issue of missing persons is addressed in an effective, inclusive, sustainable and just manner.”

The elements of the agreement that deal with the issue of missing persons assign a specific role to ICMP, which is tasked with providing recommendations on…

Resolving “No-Name” cases In Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo

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In Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo efforts are underway to resolve the issue of unidentified remains stored in mortuaries, for which there is no genetic match with blood samples provided by families of the missing.

In 2000, when ICMP began using mass database technology to facilitate DNA-led identification of human remains, it was not clear how effective the radical new technique would be. Nothing like it had been tried anywhere in the world.  The results were astonishing – an exponential rise in the number of identifications – and unlike non-DNA identifications, those achieved using DNA sampling are more than 99.95 percent certain. The DNA method is more effective, more economical and more secure than the traditional method that had been used until then.

However, when ICMP launched its DNA-led program many thousands of identifications had already been made in the Western Balkans…

Srebrenica 21 years on: another 127 victims buried

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On 11 July, family members and friends gathered at the Memorial Center in Potocari to pay their respects and bury 127 of their loved ones whose remains were found in mass graves and identified with the assistance of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

Since its inception in 1996, ICMP has been actively involved in the identification of the missing from Srebrenica; it played a key role in setting up the Potocari Memorial Center and it has worked continuously with families to help them find their loved ones and to ensure that they are able to assert their rights under the law.

The estimated number of persons missing as a result of the fall of the Srebrenica and Žepa UN Safe Areas in July 1995 is approximately 8,000. By analyzing DNA profiles extracted from post-mortem samples of exhumed remains and matching them to…

Profiles of the Missing

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On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) hosted a panel discussion with speakers from around the world who have lost loved ones as a result of conflict, human rights abuses, disasters and organized crime. Profiles of the Missing, which was opened by Deputy Mayor of The Hague Ingrid van Engelshoven and moderated by award-winning war correspondent Janine di Giovanni, was held on 8 July in The Hague.

The panel discussion addressed the multitude of reasons that persons go missing and explored strategies that families of the missing have developed in order to ensure that the authorities take all necessary steps to locate and identify their loved ones. Examining the emotional, social and political aspects of seeking truth, justice and reparation, the speakers were Ali Alillele from Syria, Ram Kumar Bhandari from Nepal, Norah Fuathum…

ICMP Opens Headquarters in The Hague

 

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On 7 July, as part of a series of events to mark the organization’s 20th anniversary, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) formally opened its new headquarters at Koninginnegracht 12 in The Hague. Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, Her Majesty Queen Noor, ICMP Commission Chair Thomas Miller, , and Norah Fuatham from Uganda and Ram Kumar Bhandari from Nepal, representing associations of families of missing persons from around the world, spoke at the  opening ceremony.

The decision to establish headquarters in The Hague is part of ICMP’s long-term evolution, from an ad hoc, blue-ribbon commission established to address a specific component of post-war recovery in the Western Balkans to a treaty-based intergovernmental organization that works throughout the world.

ICMP was founded on 29 June 1996, at the initiative of US President Bill Clinton, to…