Canada Supports ICMP’s Efforts to Help Iraq Find Missing Persons

24 January 2017: The Government of Canada will support the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to assist Iraq in locating and identifying missing persons in liberated areas of Iraq, and to respond to demands from victims’ families for justice and accountability. Canada will provide ICMP with CAN $2,291,923 to support this effort.

Under the contribution agreement that entered into force on January 1, 2017, the Government of Canada will fund ICMP activities to increase the effectiveness of Iraqi authorities in recovering and safeguarding human remains from mass graves in areas liberated from Da’esh, and increase the participation of family members, particularly women and girls, in the process of locating and identifying missing relatives.

The contribution has been made by Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program, which is part of Canada’s toolkit for promoting international peace, security and stability.  The Program complements life-saving humanitarian assistance by helping to address drivers of conflict or violence, and helps local governments to address the needs of their own people.  In Iraq, Canada’s stabilization efforts are aligned with the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh’s Working Group on Stabilization, and are oriented towards areas that have been recently liberated from Daesh.

Canada’s support will enable ICMP to provide expert advice and technical and logistical support to the relevant Iraqi authorities to locate, record and protect mass gravesites, and recover and examine vulnerable surface-lying human remains and associated evidence from mass gravesites; establish mechanisms to enable families of the missing to contribute to locating their missing relatives; and undertake targeted DNA analysis of bone samples and blood reference samples.

“Canada is pleased to continue our valuable partnership with the ICMP, whose work in the Western Balkans has been instrumental in achieving justice for the missing and their families. We are proud to support the ICMP’s efforts in Iraq, which we are confident will advance the urgent need for justice and accountability by enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of local authorities, and increasing the participation of family members, particularly women and girls, in the process of locating missing relatives,”  Ambassador Nölke said at this morning’s signing ceremony.

Canada has been a major supporter of ICMP since the organization was first established more than 20 years ago,” Kathryne Bomberger said. “Canada’s support for the Iraq program will make it possible to implement an integrated and effective process that will help the authorities in Iraq and other stakeholders, including families of the missing, to tackle the huge problem of missing persons.”

The number of people missing in Iraq as a consequence of human rights violations and decades of armed conflict ranges from 250,000 to over a million. ICMP has played an important part in addressing this issue in Iraq since 2003.  In 2005 ICMP assisted in the creation and development of the Law on the Protection of Mass Graves, and in 2012 ICMP signed an agreement with the Ministry for Human Rights, the Ministry for Health and the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, through which it is able to engage directly with relevant departments in order to expand institutional capacity to address the issue of missing persons regardless of sectarian or national affiliations.

ICMP is an international organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so.