Blood sample collection teams from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) finished a three-week blood collection campaign in Croatia today. A total of 187 samples were collected from family members living in 18 Croatian counties whose loved ones went missing during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990’s. The project was implemented as a joint project by the Office for Missing and Detained Persons of the Ministry of Defenders of Republic of Croatia and with the assistance of the Croatian Red Cross.
ICMP has worked closely with the Office for Missing and Detailed of Republic of Croatia on the issue of missing persons with since 1996. Technical assistance provided included the construction of a DNA laboratory in Zagreb in 2002, and the donation of laboratory equipment. In addition, ICMP monitors the process of excavations of mortal remains of joint interest to neighboring countries and supports civil society organizations representing families of missing persons from the conflicts.
This latest initiative is part of an ongoing joint project of identification between the Government of Croatia and the ICMP. The joint project, which was initiated in 2004, has resulted in over 200 DNA-based identifications.
In the Western Balkans region ICMP has collected almost 90,000 blood reference samples from families of the missing. In addition, it has received almost 40,000 post mortem skeletal samples from government authorities in the region, which have been DNA profiled by ICMP. By matching these genetic profiles ICMP has generated almost 34,000 DNA match reports, which account for 16,680 missing persons.
While over 70 percent of the missing are now accounted for of the 40,000 persons missing in the Western Balkans, ICMP estimates that approximately 12,000 remain missing. It is necessary that governments in the region and their relevant institutions remain vigilant in their efforts so that the remaining missing persons are located and identified.
ICMP endeavors to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.