Pristina 11 October 2023: In a significant move aimed at bolstering local capacities in the DNA testing related to missing persons, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has donated essential equipment to the Kosovo Forensic Agency (KFA).
This initiative is part of a broader project to assist in accounting for missing persons from the Kosovo conflict. Under this project, ICMP facilitated a comprehensive assessment of the DNA capacities of the Kosovo Forensic Agency (KFA), building on previous cooperation and training of KFA experts at ICMP’s headquarters in The Hague. Following the assessment, ICMP and the KFA worked together to determine the equipment needed to expand the KFA’s capacities. Procurement procedures were finalized in July 2023, leading to the purchase of equipment, which was formally donated to the KFA today.
Samira Krehic, Deputy Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, noted that “This donation marks a critical step forward in enhancing Kosovo’s capacity to address the missing persons issue. By strengthening local capabilities in DNA testing, ICMP is helping to empower domestic institutions and pave the way for more efficient and effective identification processes.”
Jonas Westerlund, Swedish Ambassador to Pristina said: ”We are grateful to the Kosovo Forensic Agency, KFA, for assuming a more prominent role in the process of identifying missing people through DNA matching. Furthermore, I am pleased that, despite Sweden and Italy’s modest contributions, we are advancing this process through ICMP and by supplying the necessary technology equipment, and tools”
Ugo Ferrero, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Italy to Kosovo said: “The Italian Government has been supporting Kosovo in many areas: being one of the main providers of NATO-led KFOR mission since 1999; providing assistance to make the UCCK’s cardiac surgery department fully operational; backing local communities’ growth and Institutions in tourism governance, just to mention a few examples. Together with Sweden and through ICMP, we are now very glad to support Kosovo Authorities in taking responsibility for resolving missing persons cases. Today’s donation of equipment to the Forensic Agency will contribute to building sustainable institutions and reinforcing the Rule of Law, expediting the process, and boosting DNA capacities. At the same time, it will ensure the families’ “right to know” granted by international humanitarian and human rights law by, hopefully, receiving the remains of missing family members as an important step in moving forward”.
Blerim Olluri, CEO of KFA said: “Kosovo Forensic Agency is grateful not only for this donation but for all the support of the ICMP over the years. We believe that this donation will be in a better position to assume responsibilities in conducting DNA testing. We are also grateful to the Embassy of Sweden and Italy for their support through the ICMP”.
Andin Hoti, Chairman of the Kosovo Government Commission on Missing Persons said: “ICMP has been our right hand in the Missing Persons Process, and we believe that this donation will expedite the process of identifying the missing persons in Kosovo and at the same time in the future enable Kosoo to conduct DNA testing for the missing persons”.
The equipment donation is part of ICMP’s broader program to support cooperation among governments in the region. Over the last two decades, with ICMP support and with the active engagement of families of the missing, the authorities in the Western Balkans have been able to locate more than 75 percent of around 40,000 people who went missing during the conflicts of the 1990s, setting a global precedent in missing persons identification.
ICMP has been a steadfast partner to Kosovo since the establishment of the Government Commission on Missing Persons in 2006 and continues to help Kosovo’s authorities fulfill their obligations under local and international law to locate all missing persons, regardless of their religious or national origin. ICMP works to secure the rights of surviving families of the missing, ensuring justice, truth, and reparations.
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.