German Ambassador praises ICMP’s identification system on visit to Tuzla

ICMP’s Edin Jasaragic briefs H.E Joachim Schmidt, German Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina about the work of ICMP’s Identification Coordination Division 15 April 2009: Funding from the German government has enabled the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to purchase state-of-the-art technical equipment which will enhance its high-throughput DNA identification system.

Visiting ICMP’s Identification Coordination Division and the Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla, H.E Joachim Schmidt, German Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, praised ICMP’s DNA-assisted identification system and the improvements made to it by the recent German donation.

“ICMP’s contribution to reconciliation in BiH is essential, and Germany highly appreciates its endeavors, which is why we have contributed almost two million euros to the organization since 2001. Germany remains committed to assisting BIH address the events of the recent past as well as assisting political stabilization in the country,” he said.

As part of its assistance to governments, ICMP maintains the world’s most advanced high throughput DNA laboratory system dedicated to identifying persons missing from armed conflict, violations of human rights and natural disasters.

The German government gave 600,000 Euros, which was used to purchase state-of-the-art automated extraction instruments and specialized laboratory supplies from Qiagen in Dusseldorf. The supplies alone will enable up to 2,500 additional DNA bone sample extractions.

“Since 2001, the Federal Government of Germany has donated almost 2 million Euros to ICMP’s assistance programmes to the countries of the Western Balkans. We are very grateful for their support to ICMP and also for their unwavering commitment to the process of peace and reconciliation in the region,” said ICMP’s Deputy Director of Forensic Science Department, Mr. Adi Rizvić.

“Without donations such as these from the German Government and other nations we would not be able to continue to provide this critical support to Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries of the region,” he added.

ICMP has collected blood reference samples from 86,885 relatives of an estimated 28,727 missing people in the Western Balkans, along with 28,447 bone samples taken from human remains exhumed from mass graves across the region. By matching DNA from the relatives’ blood with DNA from victims’ remains ICMP has been able to identify 14,397 out of the estimated 40,000-plus missing individuals from the region.