During his visit to ICMP facilities in Tuzla, the Swiss Chargé d’affaires in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lukas Rosenkranz, announced that the Swiss Government will contribute a further 310,000 Swiss Francs (cca. 500.000 KM) to support the ICMP DNA led identification project in the Western Balkans for the period 2011-2012. Since 2001, including this donation Switzerland has assisted ICMP’s programs with more than 1,8 million KM.
Mr. Rosenkranz visited ICMP’s Identification Coordination Division (ICD) where family reference samples collected by ICMP from relatives of the missing and bone samples of victims received from government authorities are processed. After being bar-coded the samples are sent to ICMP laboratories in Sarajevo and Banja Luka for DNA analysis. Once extracted, the DNA profiles from blood and bone are entered into ICMP’s database and compared for possible matches. The delegation also visited the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP), which was specifically created by ICMP to assist in the identification of persons reported missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica and which was transferred to national control in 2010.
Mr. Rosenkranz commended the ICMP for its assistance to BiH and other governments in the region where huge efforts have been made to locate and identify missing persons and stressed that Switzerland has been engaged for many years in dealing with the past and stabilization processes in the region of the Western Balkans.
“The families of victims have a right to know the fate of their relatives. This truth, although very painful, is indeed very important. That is why Switzerland has been supporting the work of ICMP for years now, and that is why we will continue to provide support for these and other similar activities,” said Mr. Rosenkranz following his visit. “We are very impressed by the fact that nearly 70% of those missing have now been accounted for and understand that it will be more difficult in the coming years to locate the remaining missing persons.
Since November 2001, ICMP has led the way in using DNA as the first step in the identification of large numbers of persons missing from armed conflict. In the Western Balkans ICMP has information from 89,401 relatives of 29,131 missing people, and has analyzed 36,364 bone samples taken from mortal remains recovered from clandestine graves. ICMP has made 32,683 DNA matches of DNA from blood and bone samples, thus assisting in the identification of 16,475 people missing from the conflicts, including 13,764 from Bosnia and Herzegovina.