USAID Extends Missing Persons Support to ICMP To Assist Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, 4 September 2018: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a grant of US$350,000 to a program implemented by the International Commission on Missing Persons’ (ICMP) that supports Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts to account for those who are still missing from the conflict of the 1990s. Besides USAID, other donors assisting the ICMP program in BiH are the European Union and Sweden.

ICMP’s program in Bosnia and Herzegovina provides assistance in forensic anthropology and archaeology, DNA matching and identification, and civil society development. In addition, ICMP is helping the authorities to address the interrelated issues of unidentified remains held in BIH mortuaries, and misidentifications that occurred before ICMP introduced DNA testing in 2001.

Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, expressed the organization’s thanks for US support.

Noting that the BIH authorities have been able to account for almost 23,000 of the approximately 30,000 people who were missing at the end of the conflict, Mr Holliday pointed out that, “this still means that between 7,000 and 8,000 families do not yet know the fate of a loved one. The BiH authorities must continue to make every effort to locate the remaining missing persons and to secure the rights of their surviving relatives to the truth, to justice and to reparations.”

Peter Duffy, USAID Mission Director for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “It is both difficult and painful to address the issue of missing people, yet it is necessary. The families of the citizens of BIH who are still missing should be able to know the fate of their loved ones. This is an important element in the process of recovering from the effects of the war and in moving forward to a peaceful future. This issue is as much about justice as it is of basic humanity, and as such it should be handled with priority.   I am very pleased that USAID is able to join the efforts of other members of the international community in supporting the important work of ICMP. ”

ICMP is seeking to strengthen forensic medicine capacities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to increase the use of its Online Inquiry Center (OIC) among stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OIC is a point of access to ICMP’s Identification Data Management System (iDMS), which makes it possible to store, share and analyze very large amounts of data on missing persons, investigations, and identifications.

ICMP is also working to strengthen the capacity of the BIH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) by working with the authorities to ensure the handover of managerial responsibility to the BIH Council of Ministers by amending the MPI Co-Founders Agreement. This will transform the MPI into a fully BIH institution. Currently, ICMP and the Council of Ministers, as co-founders, have joint managerial responsibility for the MPI.

ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with headquarters in The Hague. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying 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.