Sarajevo, 8 October: A group of high school students and teachers from Hulebäcksgymnasiet in Mölnlycke, Sweden, visited the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) program in Bosnia and Herzegovina today to learn about ICMP’s work and about the missing persons issue in the Western Balkans.
During their visit, the students learned about ICMP’s cross-cutting programs to support the development of networks of civil society organizations that advocate for truth, justice and the rights of family members of missing persons. They were also briefed on ICMP’s support for international and domestic legislative initiatives to account for the missing, based on democratic processes and the rule of law.
The students visited Tuzla, where the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP), a facility specifically created to assist in the identification of persons missing from the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, is located. ICMP Senior Forensic Anthropologist Dragana Vucetic explained the meticulous process of identifying victims of the genocide. More than 8,000 persons were reported missing from the fall of the Srebrenica and Zepa UN Safe Areas in July 1995. With ICMP assistance, 7,000 have been accounted for so far.
“We are happy to present our work to young people who come here from different parts of the world,” Vucetic said. “New generations must know the truth about what happened in Srebrenica. This is an essential element in ensuring that history does not repeat itself.”
The group also learned about ICMP’s Identification Database Management System (iDMS). The iDMS collects, stores, protects and shares data on missing persons securely. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world by those who wish to provide information on missing persons, using ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center (OIC). The OIC is available at http://bit.ly/334T7Ci
ICMP assists governments worldwide in addressing the complex issue of resolving cases of missing persons which pose political, legal, technical and emotional challenges. In the Western Balkans, ICMP has collected more than 73,000 blood reference samples from families of the missing, helping the governments in the region to identify well over 70 percent of the 40,000 people who went missing in the conflicts of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia, a ratio that has not been equaled anywhere in the world.
Social Science student Erik Ryden said it is important to learn more about consequences of conflict. “Knowing more about the war in the Western Balkans at first hand will help us to get a different perspective on how the war affects people, especially in terms of accounting for missing persons,” Ryden said.
Social Science Teacher Sven Olsson said the study trip is an essential teaching component. “Many generations in Sweden do not understand the war and to teach students about the war is very difficult as it is usually focused on figures and events,” he said. “So, visiting ICMP is a real experience that enables students to engage and to feel the consequences of war. It helps them to connect their brain, stomach and heart. And besides this, I am proud that Swedish foreign aid is supporting ICMP in their important work”.
Students and teachers from Hulebäcksgymnasiet regularly visit ICMP in Bosnia and Herzegovina during study trips that focus on the history of southeast Europe.
Sweden has generously supported ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, allocating more than 23,000,000 SEK since 2002 to support ICMP’s work to assist the authorities in locating and identifying persons missing from conflict.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. 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.