Archive for noviembre, 2004

Families of the Missing Give Blood Samples to Trace Relatives

viernes, noviembre 12th, 2004

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has had a positive response to the second round of its outreach campaign to collect blood samples from family members of persons missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Funded by the European Union, ICMP’s “Outreach Campaign to Families of Missing Persons - Assisting the Identification Process in the Former Yugoslavia” targeted family members living in Europe, with phase II covering Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Switzerland. ICMP teams who traveled to the target countries collected a total of 1,771 blood samples from 1 - 10 October 2004.Deputy Director of ICMP’s Forensic Sciences Department Adnan Rizvic said he was extremely happy with the second part of the campaign, “We collected more blood samples that we had expected, which means we actually opened some new cases,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, family members are still anxious for information about their missing relatives,” he added.

More than 2,000 new blood samples were collected during the first part of the campaign, which took place in the Balkan region as well as Germany, Austria and Sweden in June. As a result of the campaign publicity, the number of walk-in blood sample donations at ICMP centers in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banja Luka, Belgrade and Prishtina increased dramatically. Many were from family members who live in other European countries and who returned to the region during summer holidays.

“We used all the normal channels of communication in our campaign,” said Asta Zinbo, Director of ICMP’s Civil Society Initiatives Program, “but ICMP also made hundreds of calls to family members of the missing throughout Europe to invite them to meet with our teams during their visits. A network of cultural associations of the Balkan Diaspora also made a huge difference in our ability to reach local communities and we really appreciate their assistance.”

The campaign was designed to inform family members of the missing about the work of ICMP and to encourage them to give blood samples, which will help in the identification of missing persons. The DNA profiles obtained from blood samples are compared to those obtained from bone samples of human remains. The matching of large numbers of blood and bone sample DNA profiles, a unique method of identifying the missing that was developed by ICMP, has so far led to matches of more than 6,000 individuals. With 99.95 percent certainty of identity through a DNA match, cases are returned to the official pathologist for final identification before being returned to families for burial.

To date, ICMP has collected nearly 65,000 blood samples from family members of almost 25,000 individuals missing as a result of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The final phase of the current outreach campaign will be launched in Croatia on November 20, 2004.

ICMP and the Government of Croatia to launch a joint campaign to collect blood samples from families of missing persons

martes, noviembre 9th, 2004

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Government of Croatia agreed Tuesday to launch a joint campaign to collect blood samples from families of persons missing as a result of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Some 25,000 persons are still missing in the region, including many from the Republic of Croatia.Under the terms of an agreement signed in Zagreb on Tuesday between the ICMP and the Croatian Ministry of the Family, Veterans’ Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity (MOBMS), joint Ministry and ICMP teams will collect blood samples from family members of the missing at locations around Croatia during two weekends, beginning November 20, 2004. The Ministry and ICMP are urging family members who have not already given blood samples to take part in this campaign.

At the signing of the Agreement, Assistant Minister of MOBMS, Ivan Grujić, who signed on behalf of the Croatian Government, said, “This project will help to resolve outstanding cases of missing persons, not only in Croatia, but also from the entire region, through the use of the DNA system of identifications.”

“We have worked closely with all governments of the region in trying to resolve the issue of missing persons, and we are pleased with this latest agreement with the Government of Croatia,” noted Adam Boys, who signed the Agreement on behalf of ICMP. “This joint project is a major step forward,” he added.

The blood samples will be used to find DNA profiles of family members, which will be compared to DNA profiles taken from bone samples of remains of missing persons found in grave sites throughout the region of the former Yugoslavia. The campaign will be officially launched next week, when details of the blood collection sites will be announced.

ICMP to Help Investigation of Mass Graves in Iraq

viernes, noviembre 5th, 2004

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) announced Friday it will assist Iraq in its efforts to address the issue of missing persons. The ICMP will donate access to its highly sophisticated forensic Data Management System (fDMS), a unique electronic database that tracks the process of exhumations and identifications from site reconnaissance and exhumation to identification of remains, notification of family members and final burial.There are believed to be between 300,000 and one million missing persons in Iraq following the regime of Saddam Hussein. Most of the missing are believed to be buried in mass graves and several mass grave sites have already been excavated.

“Resolving the fate of missing persons is a crucial element in providing justice for family members and in allowing any reconciliation process to move forward. The authorities in Iraq recognize that unless these mass graves are properly investigated, they could pose a serious threat to social cohesion for generations to come,” said Kathryine Bomberger, ICMP Chief of Staff.

“One of the biggest difficulties at the moment is how to handle and centralize all the forensic information the Iraqi authorities are getting from these mass grave sites. Giving them access to the fDMS will make managing that data dramatically more efficient and will make a huge difference in the identification of missing persons,” she added.

ICMP has become widely known for its remarkable results in the identification of missing persons through DNA profiling and it is the only organization in the world using DNA to match thousands of bone samples from missing persons with blood samples from family members. However, DNA profiling is just one of the many tools the ICMP uses to investigate the fate of the missing and a system such as the fDMS can be invaluable in tracking forensic data.

The first agreement between ICMP and the Iraqi authorities has been signed with the Kurdish Regional Government. Further discussions are underway with Iraqi authorities that could enable ICMP to assist in addressing the missing persons issue in a comprehensive manner.