Monthly Archives: August 2016

One Million Candles for the Missing in Iraq

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31 August 2016: Today, to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, ICMP’s Iraq program has organized a social media campaign to light a million virtual candles representing missing persons in Iraq.

“Today is an important day throughout the world, but it’s especially important in Iraq,” said the Head of ICMP’s Iraq program Trefor Williams. “Up to one million persons are believed to have gone missing in Iraq in the last 40 years, more than in any other country in the world.”

ICMP has been engaged in Iraq since 2003, working with the authorities to strengthen operational and technical capacities, including providing training in mass grave exhumations, crime scene management, and mortuary procedures; providing guidance on effective operational planning, inter-agency cooperation and chain of custody; and upgrading mortuary facilities. ICMP has also worked with families of the…

Daily World News Digest, 31 August 2016

Over 10,000 Still Missing from Yugoslav Wars

BalkanInsight reported on 30 August that 10,653 persons are still missing in the former Yugoslavia but the process of finding them is being hampered by divisions between countries in the region, according to the Serbian authorities. To mark the International Day of the Disappeared on Tuesday, Serbian officials and missing persons’ associations told a press conference in Belgrade that finding the 10,653 people who disappeared during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s remains a critical priority. They also said that more than 4,000 of the missing are Serbs.

Amnesty: The Day of The Disappeared

Amnesty International reported on 30 August that governments around the world are consistently using enforced disappearances to secure their own power and silence opposition. “Amnesty International campaigns on hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance in all regions of the world. This Day of the Disappeared, our…

12,000 candles for the missing


30 August 2016: Today, in order to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, ICMP’s Western Balkans program organized a social media campaign to light 12,000 virtual candles representing missing persons in the Western Balkans.

Also, in cooperation with associations of families of the missing and the Ministry for Refugees and Human Rights, ICMP organized an event in Sarajevo. Silhouettes symbolizing missing persons were erected in the Square of Sarajevo Children, and passersby were invited to write messages and place them on the installations. Volunteers and families distributed information about the effort to account for the missing, and urged the authorities to accelerate the process and to become more engaged in marking the International Day of the Disappeared.

“ICMP has spearheaded the effort to account for the 40,000 persons who were missing at the end of the conflict,” said Matthew Holliday, the Head of…

Light a Candle for the Missing


30 August 2016: Today, in order to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, ICMP organized a global social media campaign to light virtual candles representing persons missing around the world.

“Every year, millions of people around the world go missing because of conflict, human rights abuses, people trafficking, migration, disasters or other causes,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “Thousands have gone missing as a result of the Mediterranean migration crisis in the last two years, and that is one area where the international community must develop a coordinated approach. The number of persons who have disappeared because of atrocities and human rights violations in Iraq is another area where a focused, rule-of-law approach is required.”

ICMP is preparing to launch an initiative with the International Organization on Migration and other agencies to assess the number of migrants who are going missing and set…

ICMP Introduces Restructured Missing Persons Online Inquiry Center


30 August 2016: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today announced the launch of its restructured Online Inquiry Center (OIC). The OIC is an interactive missing persons search tool that makes it possible to provide or obtain information about a missing person. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

“The OIC is a unique and invaluable tool that gives stakeholders – including families of the missing and those who are responsible for locating and identifying missing persons – access to ICMP’s database, which currently contains information on around 40,000 missing persons,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “We have expanded the number of language versions and we have made the software easier to use. We believe this is a substantial and strategic contribution to the effort to account for missing persons around the world.”

The OIC can now be accessed in English,…

Daily World News Digest, 30 August 2016

IS buried thousands in 72 mass graves

AP reports today on mass graves it has documented and mapped in Syria and Iraq, “the most comprehensive survey so far, with many more expected to be uncovered as the Islamic State group’s territory shrinks.” In Syria, AP has obtained locations for 17 mass graves, “including one with the bodies of hundreds of members of a single tribe all but exterminated when IS extremists took over their region”. For at least 16 of the Iraqi graves, most in territory too dangerous to excavate, officials do not even guess the number of dead. “Even the known victims buried are staggering — from 5,200 to more than 15,000,” the report says.

Thousands of migrants rescued off Libya

The BBC reports today that about 6,500 migrants have been rescued off Libya, according to the Italian, in one of the biggest operations of its kind to date….

ICMP welcomes Colombia peace agreement


30 August 2016: The Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, today welcomed the announcement of a definitive agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de ColombiaEjército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) to end five decades of armed conflict. The final agreement recognizes the rights of victims of the conflict, including the rights of families of the missing and disappeared.

“The conclusion of the negotiations is a historic step on Colombia’s long and difficult road to peace,” Ms. Bomberger said. “ICMP is committed to working with families of the missing, the authorities and others in Colombia to ensure that the issue of missing persons is addressed in an effective, inclusive, sustainable and just manner.”

The elements of the agreement that deal with the issue of missing persons assign a specific role to ICMP, which is tasked with…

Resolving “No-Name” cases In Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo

Western Balkans

In Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo efforts are underway to resolve the issue of unidentified remains stored in mortuaries, for which there is no genetic match with blood samples provided by families of the missing.

In 2000, when ICMP began using mass database technology to facilitate DNA-led identification of human remains, it was not clear how effective the radical new technique would be. Nothing like it had been tried anywhere in the world.  The results were astonishing – an exponential rise in the number of identifications – and unlike non-DNA identifications, those achieved using DNA sampling are more than 99.95 percent certain. The DNA method is more effective, more economical and more secure than the traditional method that had been used until then.

However, when ICMP launched its DNA-led program many thousands of identifications had already been made in the Western Balkans…

Daily World News Digest, 29 August 2016

Germany: steep rise in number of missing refugee children

DW reports today that Germany’s federal police say the number of missing refugee children has doubled since the start of 2016. Most of the children are aged between 14 and 17. Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) has confirmed that by 1 July, 8,991 unaccompanied refugee children and young people had been reported missing. The figures, which were requested by the German daily “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung,” showed that the number of migrants no longer in contact with authorities was already higher than for the whole of 2015.

Italy rescues around 1,100 migrants in Mediterranean

Reuters reports today that around 1,100 migrants were rescued from boats in the Strait of Sicily on Sunday according to Italy’s coastguard. The migrants were picked up from eight rubber dinghies, one large boat and two punts through 11 rescue operations. Latest data from the International Organization…

World News Digest July


Migration Crisis                                                                   

Yahoo News reported on 1 July that at least 10 people had died after a rubber boat carrying migrants began sinking in the Mediterranean on 30 June. On 8 July the Huffington Post reported that the Italian navy had recovered 217 bodies from the hull of a migrant ship that sank off Libya in April 2015.  The R2P Live portal reported on 13 July that at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees had disappeared after arriving in Europe over the past two years, with half that number having vanished in Italy. The Hindu reported on 14 July that one child was killed and six people…