ICMP’s Conference Gathered Families from Both Communities and Appropriate Government Institutions

16 May 2007: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) hosted a meeting today in Ohrid, FYROM/Macedonia where representatives of Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb family associations of missing persons met with government institutions and international organizations responsible for addressing the fate of the over 2,000 persons still missing from the Kosovo conflict.This unique two-day conference brought together a large group of individuals representing associations of missing persons from the various communities and provided them with the opportunity to ask concrete questions, demand straight answers and explore solutions in addressing this important human rights issue.

“We seek an immediate solution to the missing persons issue, to see results”, said Haki Kasumi, representative of Kosovo Albanian family associations, adding “the motto of this conference is the motto of all family members who lost their loved ones”.

“Resolving the fate of missing persons from Kosovo conflict is critical not only to the thousands of relatives who have no news regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones, but to the process of peace and stability in the region”, said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Director-General, opening the conference, stressing that relatives of the missing need to be kept informed and consulted regarding the process of locating, recovering and identifying mortal remains missing from the conflict.

The representative of Kosovo Serb family associations, Verica Tomanovic, stated that families should be the priority of all institutions engaged in the search for missing at Kosovo. “We should be constructive and professional, and focus on mutual work and cooperation”, she said.

“The model of our work is open communication. We need sustainable mechanisms that can continue to work regardless of political challenges and obstacles”, said Veljko Odalovic, the President of the Commission on Missing Persons of the Republic of Serbia

“We are all dealing with consequences of hatred and politics”, said Arif Mucolli, Head of the Kosovo Government Commission on Disappeared Persons. Mr. Mucolli emphasized the willingness of his Commission to work with all international organizations and Serbian institutions in resolving the issue of missing persons.

The conference continues on Thursday when recommendations will be submitted to appropriate institutions in order to speed up the process of recovering the mortal remains and providing answers to their living relatives.

“I believe that we, the families of the missing, are all one. We all want to find our missing so that we can live in peace”, said one participant with missing relatives.