Canada Helps with Missing Persons Problem in Balkans

The Canadian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, David Hutchings, led a delegation of Canadian diplomats on a visit of ICMP’s facilities in Tuzla today where he used the opportunity to announce a donation of 1,356,000 CAN$ (1, 7 million BAM) from the Canadian Government’s Global Peace and Security Fund for ICMP’s work in the regions of the former Yugoslavia affected by the conflicts. The delegation included Canadian Deputy Head of Mission to Serbia, Patrick Hebert and Canadian Deputy Head of Mission to Croatia, Claude Demers.“We are pleased to announce that the Government of Canada is continuing to support the excellent work of the International Commission on Missing Persons. We want to be part of ICMP’s ongoing efforts to identify victims of the conflicts in the region, and to help provide closure to their families. The work of ICMP is helping thousands of families and assisting in the process of building peace and stability in the region,” said Ambassador Hutchings.

“ICMP has now made over 4,000 DNA- assisted identifications of persons missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica and over 11,000 DNA- assisted identifications of persons missing from all of the conflicts in the region, which is close to half of the total number originally missing,” said Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of ICMP. “This remarkable achievement was accomplished in close cooperation with our local partners. Identifying the missing through scientifically reliable methods has not only brought long-awaited answers to distraught communities, but continues to contribute to the process of truth and reconciliation,” she added.

The Canadian delegation visited the facilities where the mortal remains from the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 are re-associated and identified and the center where all blood samples collected by ICMP from relatives of the missing and all bone samples received from government authorities are archived and sent to ICMP labs for DNA-led analysis.

ICMP has made extraordinary progress in less than five years by using DNA to identify persons missing from the various conflicts in the regions of the Balkans. Last week, ICMP set a daily record by generating 60 DNA match reports, of which 43 were of different individuals and out which 20 are victims of the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.

There are around 17,500 persons still missing following the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in 1990’s. The highest number of the missing is in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the fate of up to 13,000 persons is still unknown. There are almost 2,400 persons still unaccounted for in relation to Croatia conflict and around 2,200 missing following the conflict in Kosovo.

The Government of Canada joined the donor countries of ICMP last year.

For information on additional Government of Canada activities in the Balkans, please visit the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at www.international.gc.ca