Following a two-day meeting organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) on 15 and 16 October in Bosnia and Herzegovina, representatives of the BiH Missing Persons Institute, Administration on Detainees and Missing Persons of the Republic of Croatia and the Government Commission on Missing Persons of the Republic of Serbia agreed upon future steps to create a regional list of missing persons.
Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also participated in the meeting.
It is estimated that 40,000 persons went missing as a consequence of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Of that number an estimated 30,000 persons went missing in BiH, around 6,500 persons went missing from the Croatia conflict and an estimated 4,500 persons went missing from the Kosovo conflict. Today 70 % of the 40,000 persons who went missing from the regional conflict have been accounted for.
Representatives of government commissions also discussed the status of bilateral agreements on resolving missing persons cases between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Croatia and Republic of Serbia, concluding that these agreements would accelerate addressing the issue of missing persons in the region.
It was noted that successful cooperation between relevant institutions of the three countries has resulted in resolving more than 400 cases of joint interest, which could not have been resolved in any other way. As the part of the Joint Identification Project of the Republic of Croatia and ICMP more than 400 additional cases have been solved.
“I am very pleased with the implementation of the joint identification project that resulted in a large number of resolved cases and I hope that we will continue working on its improvement”, said Ivan Grujic, Chairperson of Administration for Detained and Missing Persons of the Republic of Croatia. Mr. Grujic believes that the regional list of missing persons will be an important tool in the search process and that it would contribute to resolving current situation in regard to missing persons issue.
Mr. Amor Masovic, member of the Board of Directors of the BiH Missing Persons Institute said that he is confident that signing agreements on cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Croatia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Serbia “will improve the process of joint exhumations and lead us to resolution of even larger number of missing persons cases in the region”.
“I am pleased to say that the same working methodology and transparency in dealing with cases of joint interest have positive results and I believe that such an approach should be applied to other issues related to missing persons issue”, said Ms. Zorica Avramovic, representative of the Government Commission on Missing Persons of the Republic of Serbia.
The next working meeting is scheduled to take place before the end of 2012.
ICMP works globally to ensure the cooperation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying missing persons as a result of armed conflict, human rights abuses, disasters and other causes.