By analyzing DNA profiles extracted from bone samples of exhumed mortal remains and matching them to the DNA profiles obtained from blood samples donated by relatives of the missing, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has so far revealed the identity of 6,598 persons missing from the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica.
In an effort to identify the victims ICMP has collected blood samples from 21,566 Srebrenica victims’ survivors. The number of reported missing for whom ICMP has blood samples as well as the matching rate between DNA profiles extracted from these bone and blood samples leads ICMP to support an estimate of around 8,100 individuals missing from the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. This leads us to a conclusion that the bodies of approximately 1,500 persons still need to be found.
So far 5,564 cases of Srebrenica victims have been closed by local court-appointed pathologists. Other cases are pending approvals from family members who have decided to wait until more body parts of their identified relatives are found, before they are buried.
ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger said on this occasion: “On behalf of International Commission on Missing Persons, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families who are burying their loved ones on July 11th. ICMP is dedicated to assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina in continuing to account not only for persons missing from Srebrenica, but for the approximately 10,000 persons who are still missing from Bosnia’s armed conflicts of the 1990’s. It is vital that BiH authorities remain vigilant in accounting for missing persons in accordance with proper rule of law procedures so that families of missing persons can find closure and have access to justice.” She added that “By providing irrefutable scientific evidence of the identity of victims of atrocity, we hope that ICMP’s work will assist in preempting denial and political manipulation and allow authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide accurate and reliable information regarding events that took place during the conflict.”
The introduction of DNA by the ICMP as the basis for identifying large numbers of missing persons from the 1990’s conflicts in the Western Balkans enabled accurate identifications of persons that would never otherwise have been identified. The first DNA match, for a 15 year-old boy from Srebrenica, was made on November 16, 2001. Since then, ICMP has made DNA-identifications for 16,231 persons in the Western Balkans, of which 13,581 are in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone.
ICMP provides governments with technical assistance including locating and identifying missing persons through the use of high-throughput DNA identity testing, as well as forensic support in the fields of archeology and anthropology. ICMP cooperates with the INTERPOL in the field of locating and identifying missing persons in time of disasters, war crimes and crimes against humanity around the globe.