Sarajevo, 25 May 2023: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and associations of families of missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) presented the results of eight projects completed within the cycle for small grants from 2022, financially supported by the Delegation of European Union to BIH and the Kingdom of Sweden.
“Family associations are the driving force in accounting for the missing and manage to keep this issue in the focus of the public even so many years after the war”, said Samira Krehic, Deputy Head of ICMP Western Balkans Program. “Despite their immeasurable contribution in accounting for more than 75% of the 32.000 persons reported missing after the conflict, most associations still do not have consistent financing and mostly rely on international donors,” Krehic added.
Semina Alekić, chairwoman of the Coordination of the Association of Families of Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that through the project they organized a working meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights which should establish continuity of dialogue with the Ministry in 2023 to address the issues related to families of the missing.
Josip Drežnjak, president of the Association of Croatian victims of “Grabovica 93” called the government institutions to make investigating missing persons cases a priority, underlying that families of Grabovica victims have not found a single bone or a single body to this day, except for one official exchange 29 years ago.
Smilja Mitrović, president of the Association of Families of Missing Fighters and Civilians of Semberija and Majevica said that she and her colleagues will not stop working until all missing persons are found. She emphasized that at the meeting with the Prosecutor’s Office and the Missing Persons Institute, they demanded that unidentified remains found in the ossuaries around the country should be resolved as soon as possible.
As a result of the conflicts in the ‘90s, more than 40,000 people went missing in the Western Balkans. To date, more than 70 percent have been accounted for through the combined and continuous efforts of the authorities with support provided by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and with the broad and active participation of families of the missing.
With the financial assistance of its donors, ICMP’s Western Balkans Program continues to provide support to BIH in terms of forensic archaeology and anthropology at excavations and access to ICMP’s DNA testing and matching for the purpose of human identification of missing persons.
* * *
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons