- Title: Balkan families honour wartime missing on International Day of the Disappeared
- Date: 30th August 2019
- Summary: PEOPLE GATHERED IN SQUARE PEOPLE LOOKING AT POSTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Bosnian) ELMIR CAMIC, HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF RED CROSS (ICRC) SAYING: "We must stop politicizing this issue, unfortunately it is being politicized here and in the whole region." PEOPLE GATHERED IN SQUARE
- Embargoed: 13th September 2019 17:26
- Keywords: International Day of the Disappeared missing people war western Balkans Yugoslavia
- Location: PRISTINA, KOSOVO / VINKOVCI, CROATIA/ SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
- City: PRISTINA, KOSOVO / VINKOVCI, CROATIA/ SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
- Country: Kosovo
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA007AUEUIPL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Families of thousands of people still missing from wars in the former Yugoslavia rallied throughout the region on Friday (August 30), the International Day of the Disappeared, to draw attention to their plight.
The wars in the former Yugoslavia ended almost two decades ago, but more than 10,000 people are still missing in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia, according to official data and estimates.
Most of those whose fate still remains unknown have vanished in Bosnia, devastated by the worst of the conflicts and scarred by atrocities such as the genocide at Srebrenica.
According to the Bosnian Missing Persons Institute, of around 35,000 people reported missing during the conflict, 7,206 are still unaccounted for.
Bodies are discovered regularly, but with entire families wiped out in the conflict and lack of political will among the wartime foes - Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks - the identification is painfully slow.
The Bosnian war claimed nearly 100,000 lives and displaced millions.
The unwillingness to cooperate is a major hurdle in improving relations between Croatia, a member of the European Union since 2013, and Serbia. Croatia is searching for 1,892 people who disappeared during the war for independence from Yugoslavia and the fighting with Serb insurgents between 1991 and 1995. Of that, 411 cases refer to the killed whose remains had not been found, the Croatian government says.
In Kosovo, the former Serbian province with an Albanian majority which in 1998 rebelled for independence 1,653 people are still missing, the EU Rule of Law mission in Kosovo said, without breaking down their ethnicity.
Most are Albanians, but people representing other ethnic groups have also gone missing during the fighting and after Belgrade's forces pulled out of the territory in the wake of NATO bombing which brought about the end of the war in 1999.
With Belgrade and Pristina not talking to each other, the search for those still missing is even more complicated.
The last of the Yugoslav conflicts occurred in what is now North Macedonia, when ethnic Albanian guerrillas launched an armed insurgency for more rights. There are 22 officially reported cases of people gone missing, but non-governmental organizations estimate the number at around 200.
Wars were not fought on the soil of Serbia proper, but Belgrade authorities say that around 4,000 Serbs are still missing in the region.
(Production: Bardh Krasniqi, Zeljko Debelnogic, Suzana Sabljic, Louisa Naks, Anya Dabrowska)
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