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 ICMP’s Western Balkans program. “More than 70 percent of these people have been accounted for. That’s a huge number, and nothing like it has been achieved after a conflict anywhere else in the world – but it still means that there are 12,000 families in the region that still do not know the fate of their loved one, and that is why the effort to account for the missing must continue.”

BIH Minister for Refugees and Human Rights Semiha Borovac participated at today’s events.

Mr. Holliday noted that the authorities in Croatia and Serbia have recently resolved administrative issues and that an initiative to compile a consolidated Regional List of Missing Persons can now go ahead. “The Regional List will make it possible to eliminate duplication, share information and, hopefully, resolve many more cases.”

In the autumn of 2015 ICMP moved its headquarters from Sarajevo to The Hague, in line with an international treaty signed in December 2014. However, ICMP maintains an extensive program in the Western Balkans, and it will continue to support the effort to account for the missing in this region as long as funding for this effort can be secured.