German €2 Million Grant Enables ICMP to Help Find Missing Persons in Iraq and Syria

A new €2 million grant from Germany will enable the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to help find missing persons in Iraq and Syria.

The Hague, 2 September 2020 – A new €2 million grant from Germany will enable the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to help find missing persons in Iraq and Syria.

“Germany has been a longstanding supporter of ICMP and its global programs. ICMP’s work in Iraq and in the context of Syria is key to upholding human rights and strengthening the rule of law, which is a cornerstone of Germany’s foreign policy,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “States are responsible for locating all missing persons, and for investigating the circumstances of their disappearance regardless of their ethnic, religious or national background.”

Germany’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dirk Brengelmann, added: “The ICMP is supporting governments to address the global issue of missing persons, providing unique technical assistance in situations all over the world. The loss of their loved ones caused by armed conflict, natural disasters or similar causes leads to immense distress to the next of kin, and it is an impediment to the rule of law. Therefore, Germany is proud to continue the support of ICMP in bringing truth and accountability to the fate of people who have gone missing in Iraq and Syria.”

In Iraq, ICMP will continue to assist authorities in building a sustainable process to find all missing persons, from various periods of Iraq’s recent history, including those missing from the regime of Saddam Hussein to those missing from Da’esh crimes, and in securing the rights of all families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations. The focus of ICMP’s Syria program is to lay the groundwork for a future process of locating the missing based on human rights and the rule of law through support to families of the missing and Syrian civil society partners.

Iraqi authorities estimate that 250,000 to 1 million persons are missing in the country. According to the United Nations and other sources there are over 100,000 persons missing from the ongoing Syrian conflict. In addition, many persons have been reported missing following disappearances before the armed conflict began, and Syrians have disappeared along migration routes to Europe and elsewhere.

ICMP has assisted Iraqi authorities’ efforts conduct missing persons investigations that conform to standards of evidence required in courts of law, including the use of forensic sciences such as DNA analysis to identify remains. ICMP also participates in efforts to develop a central Iraqi agency charged with finding all missing persons and maintain a central record of all missing persons. ICMP supports dialogue between families of the missing and the Iraqi authorities on missing persons policy, and aims to strengthen the inclusiveness of policies in respect of all segments of civil society. ICMP recently signed cooperation agreements with several Iraqi institutions. 

The ICMP Syria/MENA program, launched in 2017, prepares the ground for a future, post-conflict process on locating missing persons that is led by Syria’s judicial and related institutions, including investigative judges and law enforcement. A first step is building a data repository on missing persons through facilitating cooperation between families of the missing and civil society. Data, including forensic data and genetic reference samples collected from families of the missing inside and outside of Syria will be critical to efforts by future post-conflict Syrian institutions to investigate missing persons cases.

About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based international organization that seeks to ensure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, 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.

As an intergovernmental organization that is tasked exclusively to address the issue of missing persons, ICMP is actively engaged in working with governments, civil society organizations, justice institutions, international organizations, and others to develop purpose-specific institutions and legislation, to foster the growth and influence of civil society groups and families of the missing, and to provide cutting-edge technical expertise and tools, such as DNA and advanced data systems technologies to locate and identify the missing. ICMP works to secure the rights of all families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations.