Members of the Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice (SCTJ) this week visited ICMP’s headquarters in Sarajevo, the Podrinje Identification Project and ICMP Identification Coordination Division in Tuzla, and the Potocari Memorial Center in Srebrenica.
During the 2-5 December visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, SCTJ members were briefed by ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and other ICMP staff members, on the institutional, legal, technical and civil society aspects of the missing persons issue in different parts of the world. They also met with a range of BiH civil society groups active in the search for missing persons.
It is estimated that almost 50,000 persons are missing in Syria, including 30,000 as a result of the current conflict. Since fighting began in 2011 there have been reports of mass graves near major cities such as Deraa, Damascus, Aleppo, and in the Christian town of Sadad. During discussions in Sarajevo members of the SCTJ aknowledged the importance of coordinating separate initiatives to assemble databases of missing persons in Syria.
ICMP works with Syrian NGOs which have sought its assistance, including the SCTJ. ICMP has proposed working with Syrian refugees and displaced persons outside the country to collect and collate data on missing family members via the ICMP Online Inquiry Center. Any ICMP engagement related to Syria will aim to establish the preconditions for a program of accounting for missing persons that will be a fundamental component of future justice and reconciliation efforts.