6 September 2003: A top level delegation from Norway will visit the exhumation site at Crni Vrh and International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) facilities in Tuzla today. The delegation will be led by Mr. Kim Traavik, the Norwegian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, and will include Mr. Henrik Ofsad, the Norwegian Ambassador to BiH, Mr Jon Hansen who is Counselor at the Royal Norwegian Embassy to BiH, Mr. Jan Braathu, Deputy Director General, Western Balkans Section (WBS), MFA and Mr. Jo Sletbak, Assistant Director General, WBS MFA. Ms. Cathrine Andersen, Advisor, MFA.Norway is already an ICMP donor and has pledged continuing support for ICMP’s humanitarian work, which is to work with the families of the missing to find and identify their loved ones.
There are approximately 40 000 people missing in the region of former Yugoslavia, up to 30,000 of them in Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the work at Crni Vrh is completed in two to three weeks’ time, it is likely to prove to be the largest mass grave in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina to date. Over 300 bodies and partial remains have been recovered so far. ICMP Forensic Archeologists and Anthropologists are taking an active part in the exhumations, working closely with local Commissions’ and court representatives and ICTY teams.
The Norwegian delegation will first visit the Crni Vrh mass grave site, then go on to the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) in Tuzla, which currently stores around 4,200 body bags containing mortal remains exhumed from areas around Srebrenica. They will also visit the ICMP Identification Coordination Center (ICC) which is the center of the ICMP data base for identification, matching DNA profiles from mortal remains with the DNA of blood samples given by family members of the missing.
There have been 47,411 blood samples collected in the region, 37,985 in BiH. To date ICMP DNA analysts have made 4,348 DNA match reports, of which almost 3,500 cases have been closed, enabling the families of these persons to recover the remains of their loved ones and have closure.