BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Semiha Borovac visited ICMP’s offices in Sarajevo and Tuzla on 23 September, including the Identification and Coordination Division (ICD) as well as the facilities of the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP). Minister Borovac was the first BiH Minister for Refugees to visit these facilities, dedicated to identification of missing persons in BiH and crucial to the process of addressing the issue of missing persons from the conflicts of the 199Os.
ICMP has worked closely with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to account for the over 30,000 people who were reported missing at the end of the war. Until now around 23,000 individuals – more than 70 percent of the total – have been identified. Almost 15,000 have been identified using DNA.
Minister Borovac said she wanted to see the ICD and PIP at first hand because these facilities play a key role in resolving the fate of persons who went missing and were forcibly disappeared during the conflict. She said the Ministry would take practical and concrete steps to continue with the work that must be done in order to account for the 8,000 people who are still missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Minister Borovac’s visit is an important and valued gesture” Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Director General told reporters. “It shows that the authorities are serious about taking concrete steps to ensure that the remaining 8,000 missing persons from the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina are accounted for.” She said it was essential that the authorities continue to support the MPI and that they establish a Fund for the Families of the Missing, as they are required to do under the 2004 Law on Missing Persons.
Ms Bomberger also expressed the hope that more BiH and entity officials would support and highlight the achievements of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the search and identification of missing persons. “The experience of this country is of global relevance,” she said, “and many other countries are showing interest in this, or are already benefiting from it.”
ICMP is an international organization whose mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, migration, human rights abuses, disasters, crime and other causes. As part of its programs, ICMP operates the world’s leading high-throughput DNA human identification facility. Using the Identification Database Management System (iDMS), the ICD matches the DNA profiles from mortal remains with DNA profiles provided through blood samples from family members. The PIP is a specialized facility operated by the domestic authorities for the storage and re-association of remains recovered in eastern Bosnia.