Germany Continues Support for ICMP To Help Account for Missing Persons from Syria and Iraq  

The Hague, 30 May 2022 – The German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) has made a new financial donation to support efforts by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to help account for missing persons from Iraq and Syria. The donation will support activities over a period of eight months.

“Germany has been a key partner in ICMP’s work to ensure that States uphold their responsibility to locate all missing persons and investigate the circumstances of their disappearance regardless of their ethnic, religious or national background,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today. “The latest donation will make it possible to help Iraq maintain the momentum to find missing persons and to continue ICMP’s efforts to help Syrian families report their missing loved ones.”

ICMP has been assisting Iraq since 2005 providing training and expertise and helping Iraq to create a sustainable process to find the more than 250,000 persons missing since the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Between 30 August and 1 September 2021, representatives of key Iraqi government institutions met at a conference held in The Hague under ICMP’s auspices with FFO support. The meeting resulted in broad consensus on ways of enhancing Iraqi efforts to find all missing persons. Also, to mark International Human Rights Day in December 2021, ICMP brought together Yazidi families, CSOs and community and religious leaders from Germany and the Netherlands to discuss the issue of missing persons from Da’esh crimes, and to commemorate those who disappeared. The conference and related events in The Hague were supported by the FFO.

ICMP’s Syria-MENA Program is laying the foundations for an effective missing persons process that can be rolled out quickly as soon as conditions on the ground make this possible. ICMP has collected data from almost 60,000 family members who have reported almost 23,000 relatives who have gone missing in the Syrian context. The central repository is growing steadily as more and more families provide information. ICMP has also facilitated the creation of a Policy Coordination Group (PCG) comprising Syrian family associations, civil society organizations, legal and human rights defenders, and international advisors, to develop policy recommendations that can be used to establish a rule-of-law-based missing persons process based on experience and research. The PCG has released several documents related to Syria’s missing, including an Ethical Charter on Data Collection and Documentation, a UPR submission to the UN Human Rights Council, Constitutional Provisions and a paper on missing persons legislation for Syria.

Iraqi authorities estimate that between 250,000 and one million people are missing in the country as a result of decades of conflict and human rights abuse, including atrocities committed during the Ba’ath Party regime, wars, and atrocities committed by Da’esh. Iraqis who have left the country also are missing, including victims who have died while crossing the Mediterranean.

More than 130,000 people are believed to be missing as a result of the conflict in Syria that began in 2011, but the country also has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes prior to the conflict, and thousands of Syrians who have fled the fighting have gone missing along migratory routes.

A long-time supporter of the organization, Germany acceded to the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the ICMP in May 2021, becoming the Treaty’s ninth State Party.


About 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. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing person.