12 September 2006: In one of her first visits outside Sarajevo since taking over the position, the French Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Maryse Berniau, toured facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today. Ambassador Berniau praised the ten years achievements of ICMP in assisting BiH in the process of accounting the missing persons from the conflict.
The issue of persons missing from armed conflicts, abuses of human rights and other crimes against humanity is a global concern. ICMP endeavors to secure the co-operation of Governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so.
Ambassador Berniau stated that the work of ICMP contributes to the process of truth and justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Ten years after the war, it is important for families of missing to hear about their beloved ones so they can look to the future. Missing persons do not have color, they are all victims”, said Ambassador Berniau and reminded that the French Government now financially contributes to the work of ICMP. “I praised the work of ICMP in the expertise they give and their capacity building efforts in resolving this issue”.
“France has joined other 15 other countries in supporting the work of ICMP. Given the dedication of the French Government to the development of justice and good government, this donation is a prominent expression of this commitment”, said ICMP Chief of Staff, Kathryne Bomberger, who accompanied Ambassador Berniau.
The French Ambassador visited the ICMP facility that performs DNA identifications on biological samples taken from the missing that are compared to reference samples provided by surviving family members. She also visited ICMP facilities where scientists combine DNA and forensic anthropology to re-associate fragmented mortal remains exhumed from secondary mass graves, and where mortal remains of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica victims are stored and examined for the final determination of identity.
Approximately 30,000 individuals are said to have gone missing as a consequences of conflicts in BiH. Today it is estimated that 15,000 persons are still missing. Since November 2001, ICMP has assisted in identifying over 10,000 missing individuals in the region.