Iraqi Families of Missing Persons Conclude Visit to ICMP

Iraqi delegation from "Ship of Life" NGO at Sarajevo's Liberation Square
Iraqi delegation from "Ship of Life" NGO at Sarajevo's Liberation Square

30 August 2014: A delegation of thirteen women from Iraq, who are family members of missing persons, completed a five day visit to ICMP in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During their visit they attended ceremonies to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared in Sarajevo.

The group comes from different parts of Iraq, including Basra, Iraqi Kurdistan, Diyala, Anbar and Salahaldin, and represent Kurdish, Shia and Sunni women. The group are members of a non-governmental organization called the Ship of Life. The goal of the visit was for the group to was to enhance their knowledege of mechanisms and methodes to address the issue of missing persons.

During the visit, the group toured ICMP’s facilities and learned about DNA identification and ICMP’s work in assisting the governments around the globe to deal with the issue of missing persons. The group also received presentations on ICMP’s work with family associations of missing persons in the Western Balkans. They also met with BiH government authorities and civil society members, including the BiH Missing Persons Institute, the BiH Human Rights Ombudsman, as well as various family associations of all nationalities.

“ICMP’s efforts in bringing here from all parts of Iraq are so appreciated. There are so many parallels between what we’ve seen here and what we in Iraq have gone through. The experiences and lessons we’ve collected here will help us in our mission back home,” said Dr. Safa Muslim of the Ship of Life NGO.

Estimates of the number of missing persons in Iraq run from a quarter of a million to one million people, who are missing from decades of conflict and human rights abuses. Millions of people in Iraq today struggle with uncertainty surrounding the fate of their loved ones.

As part of its ongoing Civil Society Initiatives program, ICMP is working with key Iraqi ministries to facilitate dialogue on missing persons’ issues between civil society and government institutions, and strengthen the capacities of victims’ groups.

ICMP staff first went to Iraq in 2003 to assess the provision of assistance, and began working with Iraqi institutions in 2005. It established an office in Baghdad in 2008 and in Erbil in 2010.

ICMP was established in 1996 at the G-7 Summit in Lyon, France, to support the Dayton Peace Agreement. ICMP is today actively involved in helping governments and other institutions around the globe address the issue of missing persons from armed conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime and other causes.