26 November 2003: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Pristina on Wednesday, 26 November 2003. Representatives of family associations of missing persons from the conflict, as well high-level Kosovo government officials, including President Ibrahim Rugova and Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, and members of the Coordination Center for Kosovo, are expected to attend the ceremony. Deputy SRSG, Jean Christian Cady, will sign on behalf of UNMIK and Gordon Bacon, Chief of Staff will sign for ICMP.In an effort to help Kosovo with its missing persons issue, ICMP began its operations in Kosovo in June 1999 and completed an agreement with the Coordination Center for Kosovo (CCK) in October 2001. The new MoU will reinforce procedures between ICMP and UNMIKregarding a DNA- led identification process, with the aim of better assisting families in their search for information on the fate and location of their loved ones.
ICMP Chief of Staff, Gordon Bacon, hopes that improved cooperation will increase the speed and accuracy of identifications:
“It is the hope of both ICMP and UNMIK that by working together, we will not only increase the accuracy and speed of identifications, help bring closure to thousands of families without information on the fate of a loved one, but together we can assist in closing a chapter on the horrific acts of injustice that took place here.”
To date, ICMP has collected 8,816 blood samples, representing a total of 3263 missing persons from the conflict in Kosovo. That number will rise as ICMP collects more blood samples. In addition, ICMP has received a total of 2,657 bone samples (representing 2189 different individuals), 1,719 of which were received from UNMIK and 938 from the CCK. ICMP has also delivered a total of 915 DNA match reports back to the relevant authority from which we received the initial bone sample, representing 889 different individuals. So far 361 cases have been closed.
The new procedures involving the DNA-led identification process will come into operation immediately.