13 years and now, we are all missing them

Following the cessation of the Kosovo conflict, it is estimated that approximately 4,400 persons were missing and presumed dead. Of that number over 1,700 remain unaccounted for. ICMP has...
Following the cessation of the Kosovo conflict, it is estimated that approximately 4,400 persons were missing and presumed dead. Of that number over 1,700 remain unaccounted for. ICMP has provided assistance to UNMIK, the Government of Serbia, and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) since 1999 in determining the fate and whereabouts of missing persons from the Kosovo conflict through technical and capacity building assistance.

Vedat Xhymshiti | between THE frontlines

©Eliza Hoxha, Kosovo singer and Human Rights Activist.

In October 2006, the PISG established the Kosovo Commission on Missing Persons. The Commission is inter-ministerial in construct and the relevant ministries involved in the issue have appointed their permanent secretaries as members. The Head and Co-Head of the Commission represent the Kosovo Albanian and non-Albanian communities respectively. The mandate of the Commission is to search for missing persons from the conflict regardless of the national, ethnic or religious origin.
ICMP’s work in Kosovo is focused on ensuring that transparency and human rights standards are fully applied to the determination of the fate and whereabouts of the missing. ICMP supports increased dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and has worked to promote the capacity of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to work on the issue of missing persons. It is important to ensure that these institutions address missing persons cases regardless of the ethnic, religious or national origin of the missing person.
Under its agreement with UNMIK, ICMP analyzes bone samples received from UNMIK and the Serbian authorities in a DNA-led identification process where biological samples taken from the missing are compared to reference samples of surviving family members collected by ICMP.
To date based on the currently available list of registered missing persons from Kosovo; ICMP has collected over 90 percent of the blood reference samples needed to potentially match to bone samples from exhumed mortal remains and has assisted the relevant authorities in accurately closing over 2,000 cases using DNA.
ICMP does not currently monitor or assist in reconnaissance visits or exhumations in UN-administered Kosovo.
ICMP also supports the development of associations of families of missing persons from the Kosovo conflict. This assistance includes support for regular meetings, a series of workshops to enhance association members’ skills in advocacy, project planning, proposal writing, communications, and conflict resolution, and financial support for projects. Further, ICMP assisted family associations in organizing two “Truth and Peace” conferences.
In May 2007, ICMP hosted a conference on Addressing the Issue of Missing Persons from the Kosovo Conflict in Ohrid, Macedonia. Some 65 participants, including representatives of associations of families of the missing from the two major communities, UNMIK, the Commission on Missing Persons of the Republic of Serbia, the Kosovo Commission on Missing Persons, the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, and other non-governmental organizations, gathered to discuss progress in determining the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, to review existing and possible future institutional frameworks for addressing the issue, and to discuss expectations, needs, and possible contributions of all involved parties.

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