Workshop strengthens Iraqi civil society’s ability to contribute to efforts to account for missing persons

By Danara Dourdoussova

Baghdad, 17 December 2020 – Representatives from 24 civil society organizations (CSOs) across Iraq recently took part in a workshop to strengthen their ability to respond to the needs of the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared.

Topics addressed during the workshop included the role of CSOs in responding to the needs of the families of forcibly disappeared and other missing persons; reporting missing persons to Iraqi authorities and to the UN mechanisms, and developing a national legal framework that protects all persons from enforced disappearance in line with the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Workshop participants said CSOs and international experts should be part of Iraq’s efforts in these fields.

The workshop, held 7-9 December, was organized by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) jointly with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and…

Western Balkan Missing Persons Group Reaffirms Commitment to Regional Cooperation

Sarajevo, 16 December 2020 – In an event today with representatives of the Berlin Process participants, members of the Western Balkan Missing Persons Group (MPG) said they plan to intensify their cooperation, information sharing and engagement with families to strengthen work to account for missing persons across the region.

The MPG comprises senior representatives of the institutions in the region that are responsible for addressing missing persons issues. It was created in 2018, in the context of the Western Balkans Berlin Process, to strengthen efforts to find those who remain missing following the 1990s conflicts on the territory of former Yugoslavia.

The group presented its second annual report during the event, which was co-organized by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The report notes the MPG’s efforts to actively involve families of the missing in the regional cooperation process by sharing…

25 years after Dayton: Bosnian experts and families of the missing take stock of achievements, next steps in finding the missing

Sarajevo, 14 December 2020 –  In an online event organized by ICMP today, Bosnian families of the missing and representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions discussed the country’s achievement in finding over 75 percent of the 30,000 persons missing from the 1990s conflict and its on-going efforts to secure the rights of families and citizens to justice, truth and reparations.

At the event, organized with UK financial support titled “Profiles of the Missing: Missing Persons – 25 Years after Dayton”, participants reflected on the hopes and expectations in the aftermath of the Dayton Peace Accords, which were signed 14 December 1995 in Paris, and on achievements resulting from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts to develop a legal and institutional framework for impartial and effective investigations of missing persons cases.

“This achievement was a massive undertaking spearheaded by the relentless, courageous work of the surviving families of the missing, many of whom are…

Colombia’s missing in focus of livestreamed event organized by ICMP, Search Unit for Persons Listed as Disappeared (UBPD)

Bogota, Colombia 9 December 2020 – Relatives of some of Colombia’s many missing persons will share their stories in an event organized this week by the International Commission on Missing Persons and Colombia’s Search Unit for Persons Listed as Disappeared (UBPD).

Speakers in the online panel event also include ICMP Commissioner Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, UBPD Director Luz Marina Monzón Cifuentes, EU Deputy Head of EU Delegation in Colombia Lars Bredal and ICMP Commissioner and former Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders. Participants will discuss Colombia’s progress in work to account for missing persons following the 2016 Peace Agreement.

The event, titled Profiles of the Missing: Families of the missing reflect on progress in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, is set to start at 11:30 (Colombia time) on Friday 11 December and will be streamed live on ICMP Facebook.

The Search Unit estimates that 120,000 persons are missing as…

Syrian Women Must Have Leadership Roles in the Missing Persons Process

Idleb, Syria May 2020 – A wife holds the photo of her missing husband. The majority of those missing in the context of Syria are men, which means there are large numbers of women and children survivors who face multiple challenges and need sustainable support to overcome these. Photographer: Mohammad Khaddor

The Hague, 08 November 2020 – Syrian women whose family members are missing face multiple challenges and need sustainable support to overcome these, representatives of Syrian civil society organizations (CSOs) said in a series of discussion sessions recently organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The discussions with women-led CSOs focus on ways in which Syrian civil society and the international community can support Syrian women with missing relatives. The discussion sessions, financed by the United Kingdom, were held around 25 November, are part of a larger IMP program to engage and promote the active engagement of Syrian Civil Society in the missing persons process.

Over 100,000 persons are missing as a result of the current conflict in Syria, according to estimates cited by the UN in 2019.  In addition, Syria has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes that…

Iraqi authorities, with ICMP support, to collect data and blood samples from families with missing relatives in Southern Iraq

Baghdad 6 December 2020 – As part of work that aims to identify missing persons, Iraqi authorities – supported by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) – will be at several sites in Southern Iraq to collect information and blood samples for DNA analysis from families of missing persons for 10 days starting 6 December.

The campaign to collect information and blood drops for genetic testing, targets families whose relatives went missing in atrocities at Badoush prison, where Da’esh allegedly massacred hundreds of prisoners in 2014. Work to excavate a mass grave near the prison is resuming, following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) of the Martyrs’ Foundation (MF) and the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) of the Ministry of Health, as well as ICMP experts, will meet families with missing relatives in Basra, Dhi Qhar, Missan and Wassit for one to three days each. The…

ICMP assists Serbia in excavation of mass grave near Raška

Raška, Serbia 30 November 2020 – Experts from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today began providing technical forensic assistance at the request of Serbia’s Government Commission on Missing Persons at the exhumation of skeletal remains at the disused Kizevak quarry near Raska in southern Serbia.

The site is believed to hold remains of Kosovo Albanians missing from the 1999 conflict. Authorities have used ICMP DNA-matching reports to identify more than 2,500 of the 4,500 people estimated missing from the Kosovo conflict.

In 2015, supporting the Serbian Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP monitored the initial phase of the excavation at the Kizevak site. However, no human remains were found at that time. Efforts to locate the gravesite continued iteratively until earlier this month when the Serbian Commission found skeletal remains at the site with the help of aerial imagery.

ICMP has since 2001 provided technical forensic assistance to exhume four Kosovo…

Sweden continues to support work of ICMP in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo November 19 2020 – A new grant of SEK 9 million (€870,000) from Sweden enables the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to continue supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) authorities’ efforts to account for missing persons and secure the rights of families .

“Sweden’s support to ICMP over the years has contributed to identifying missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing clarity to families and friends about the fate of their loved ones, and bringing justice to victims,” said Johanna Strömquist, Sweden’s Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Thousands are still missing, and the families need to know. We will continue to support ICMP in assisting local authorities to take on their legal obligations towards them and by that contribute to strengthening the rule of law and the level of trust in the society.”

Through the grant, ICMP will continue its technical support to BIH authorities. This includes assistance in…

ICMP, with EU Support, Continues to Assist Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Authorities’ Work to Find Missing Persons and Secure Rights of All Families

Sarajevo, 13 November 2020 – The European Union will continue their support to International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) ongoing assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) authorities in it’s work to locate and identify persons who are still missing from the 1990s conflict. Under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, the European Union is providing €3 million to enable continuation of ICMP work over the next three years.

The new funding will enable ICMP to conduct a policy dialogue with the BiH authorities and families of the missing with the goal of building BiH capacities in DNA testing.  ICMP will also continue to assist BiH with forensic expertise, including the recovery of mortal remains from mass and clandestine graves and support in conducting DNA-based identifications.

“The EU’s continuous assistance to the ICMP aims to support their efforts in addressing unresolved fates of missing persons as well as in helping the authorities to fulfil their obligations…

ICMP to Host Online Discussion on Women and Missing Persons in the Syrian Context

The Hague, 9 November 2020 – An online discussion to be hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) this week seeks to explore the impact of the issue of missing and disappeared persons on Syrian women, and to advance policy discussions that would enable women to assume a greater role in the Syrian missing persons process.

Speakers will include Syrian civil society representatives and other experts who will discuss the challenges that women face as disappeared persons and as relatives of missing persons.

Syrian filmmaker Waad Al-Khatib, whose documentary For Sama won several awards, will discuss the impact of the Syrian conflict on women. Waddad Halawani, President of the Committee of the Abducted and Missing in Lebanon, will share experiences from her organization’s fight to ensure that those who disappeared in Lebanon’s civil war are accounted for.

Estimates cited by the UN in 2019 indicate that over 100,000 persons are…