Kyiv, 13 December 2023 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed the second phase of a campaign that enables Ukrainian refugees residing in Europe to provide genetic reference samples voluntarily, to help locate relatives missing in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The campaign was supported by the European Union Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) and the Government of Canada.
The latest phase of the campaign took place in Poland and Germany in November and December. A total of 165 DNA reference samples were provided by Ukrainian families during the one-week campaign. In addition to genetic data, family members also provided data about themselves and their missing loved ones, including the location where the missing person was last seen and the circumstances of the disappearance.
Iulia Bogutska, daughter of a soldier who has been missing since the spring of 2023, provided a blood sample to the ICMP team in Krakow. “When the war started, my family left for Poland with our children,” she said. “When my father went missing, I did not have the opportunity to provide DNA in Ukraine. Now we are very glad that we can cooperate with ICMP. This gives us some hope.”
According to the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine, which has responsibility for the issue of missing persons, more than 30,000 persons have been reported missing as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and the numbers continue to grow.
Since February 2022 more than 28,000 missing persons have been listed in the Unified Register of Persons Disappeared Under Special Circumstances maintained by Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“Collecting data, including biological reference samples, from Ukrainian families in Poland and Germany is essential to investigating the tens of thousands of missing persons cases, and to securing the rights of families of the missing,” said ICMP Europe Director Matthew Holliday. “This is a first step. In cooperation with its Ukrainian partners, ICMP will scale up data collection efforts next year in countries hosting large numbers of Ukrainian refugees.”
In addition to collecting genetic samples, the campaign encouraged Europe-based Ukrainian families to report missing relatives using ICMP’s Online Enquiry Center (OIC). Thus far, more than 2,000 families of the missing have used this online mechanism to report a missing person.
ICMP’s data collection campaign in EU member states, and other countries hosting Ukrainian refugees is being conducted in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine (NPU). In August 2023, ICMP and the NPU signed a Protocol enabling cooperation on data collection and other activities and providing the NPU’s Main Investigation Department with the opportunity to use ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS).
Oksana Romaniuk – Program Officer Communications and Outreach, ICMP
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. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.