Led by Mr. Stephen Williams MP, the UK’s Minister of State for Communities and Local Government, a group of young British opinion makers and civil servants visited the Headquarters and facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Sarajevo and Tuzla on 9th and 10th of April.
This is the fourth visit of its kind organized by Dr. Waqar Azmi OBE, the Chairman of the charitable initiative “Remembering Srebrenica”. Under this British Government sponsored project, politicians, academics, religious leaders, journalists and influential young people from a variety of organizations in the United Kingdom are invited to draw lessons from the conflict in Bosnia and raise awareness in Britain of the effects of intolerance.
During their visit to ICMP facilities, the delegation learned about ICMP’s work to assist governments around the world to address the issue of missing persons through developing rule of law mechanisms to effectively and impartially deal with an issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Members of delegation toured ICMP’s laboratory in Sarajevo, where they learned about the organization’s high throughput DNA identification system which has assisted Bosnia and Herzegovina in a process that has accounted for over 70% of the estimated 32,000 persons missing at the end of the conflict.
“ICMP has played a vital role in assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina to address this painful legacy of the conflict. I am delighted that my colleague William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, has indicated the UK’s support for ICMP to become an internationally available resource.” said Mr. Stephen Williams MP during the visit.
The delegation went on to visit the Potocari Memorial Center where they met members of victims associations from Srebrenica.
The ICMP is the only specialized international organization of its kind that addresses this issue of missing persons in all of its facets. In the past 18 years, ICMP has assisted more than 20 countries around the world in resolving the missing person cases. This includes the governments in the region of Western Balkans account for more than two thirds of those missing from the armed conflicts of the 1990’s including 7,000 who went missing from Srebrenica.