The Hague, 28 October 2019: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) stands ready to enhance its support for Iraq’s efforts to address the country’s huge issue of missing persons in an effective and impartial way, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today.
Ms Bomberger was speaking during a visit by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim to ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague. Foreign Minister Alhakim was accompanied by Iraq’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Hisham Al-Alawi and senior officials.
Director-General Bomberger said she hoped it will be possible to finalize and implement a Memorandum of Understanding between ICMP and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs as soon as possible so that ICMP can step up the support it has already been providing to Iraq for more than a decade.
“ICMP’s goal is to help Iraq establish a sustainable process to find all missing persons, regardless of their ethnic, religious or national origin,’ Ms Bomberger said. “In line with that goal, ICMP wants to ensure that Iraq has access to all of the specialized assistance that ICMP can provide, including the Identification Data Management System, which will give domestic Iraqi agencies the capacity to facilitate data entry and data analysis and compare DNA databases.”
Ms Bomberger also expressed the hope that Iraq will accede to the ICMP Agreement, “which would open up the possibility for Iraq to participate in ICMP’s Conference of States Parties and other governing bodies.”
Director-General Bomberger briefed Foreign Minister Alhakim on ICMP’s global operations and its program in Iraq, and accompanied the Iraqi delegation on a tour of ICMP’s high-throughput DNA laboratory system.
Estimates of the number of missing in Iraq range from 250,000 to one million. ICMP has been working in the country since 2004. It is helping the authorities to develop long-term strategies to account for missing persons regardless of ethnic, religious or national origin and to secure the rights of families regardless of the circumstances of disappearance. Among other things, ICMP is providing training in locating clandestine graves and exhuming and identifying human remains, and in the collection and use of DNA reference samples for human identification. ICMP has donated forensic equipment and software to help Iraq build a centralized data system.
ICMP’s latest support to the National Team, which brings together all of the agencies responsible for addressing the missing persons issue in Iraq, took place this month, when the Team completed a 10-day Data and Reference Sample Collection campaign in Qadiya Camp for internally displaced persons, in Duhok, northern Iraq.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague. 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 persons.