The European Union announced today at a press conference it will continue funding the activities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in the Western Balkans in the period December 2011 – December 2013. A donation in the amount of 2 million EUR is aimed at supporting ICMP’s technical assistance to the governments in the region in locating and identifying missing persons from the armed conflicts of the 1990’s.
On this occasion, the EU Special Representative for BiH Ambassador Peter Sørensen and ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger signed a donation agreement in the Delegation of the European Union to BiH and EUSR in Sarajevo.
“I welcome this agreement above all because it will help to bring closure to family members of missing persons. It goes some way to ensure a measure of dignity for them. Indeed, the victims here are not only the missing persons, but also their family members who want to, and are entitled to know the fate of their loved ones.
“The work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) benefits people today, and future generations of the communities of the former Yugoslavia affected by the conflicts of the 1990s. The EU is very impressed with the work that ICMP has accomplished so far. Since 2004 we have supported their work with over EUR 3 million. Today we will continue to do so with an additional EUR 2 million foreseen under the EU’s 2010 Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“For the European Union, finding and identifying missing persons is a high priority and the EU remains committed to work closely with our partners and the countries in the region to support efforts to address this important matter”, said Ambassador Peter Sørensen during the signing ceremony.
“The issue of missing persons remains one of the most painful legacies of the armed conflicts in the countries of the Western Balkans. However, it must be noted that this region has achieved unprecedented results in accounting for the missing. Today, approximately 70 % of those missing from the conflicts have been accounted for, which is extraordinary when compared to other parts of the world that also struggle to address the issue of persons missing from war and violations of human rights.
I would like to thank the European Union for its continuing support of the work of ICMP and its most recent generous donation. The support of the international community has been critical to ICMP’s efforts to help the governments in the region tackle this issue,” said ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger during the signing ceremony.
“It is vital that the governments in the region maintain their vigilant efforts to locate and recover the remaining missing person cases. Their efforts will contribute to peace, justice and reconciliation,” she added.
ICMP seeks 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 pioneered the use of DNA technology to identify large numbers of missing persons. Today ICMP has helped scientifically identify more than 18,000 persons and its database houses 150,000 genetic samples.
ICMP also contributes to institutional reform and provides assistance to judicial institutions. It works with civil society organizations, encourages public involvement in its activities, and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tributes to the missing.