The fate of the persons missing in the 1990s wars in the Balkans: obstruction instead of civilisational prospects and a humanitarian dimension

The Coalition for RECOM urged the governments of the post-Yugoslav countries to launch a joint action to resolve the fates of the 10,167 persons who went missing during the wars in the territories of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), and Kosovo. At least  1,300 persons was seen last time on one of the concentration camps in B&H. A precondition for this is that the government commissions cease acting as the harbingers of the interests of the political parties in power and treat all victims with equal importance, recognising that it is in the interest of the families and the general public that the fates of the missing persons be uncovered.

REKOM - Sudbina nestalih u ratovima devedesetih na Balkanu: opstrukcija umjesto civilizacijske perspektive i humanitarne dimenzije

The fact that in 2019 mortal remains of only 85 persons have been identified (60 persons missing during the war in B&H, and 25 persons missing in Croatia), indicates collaboration in the obstruction of the process of resolving this difficult heritage from the shared past. It is concerning that it has become a common practice that exhumation of known mass graves is not being carried out. There are serious indications that certain state institutions, such as the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Serbia and the wartime commanders, possess information on the locations of large number of mass graves, but that this information is being kept a “state secret” and in private archives.

The Coalition for RECOM especially warns that the issue of missing persons in the case of the war in Kosovo has become extremely politicised, that politicians and heads of victims’ associations are magnifying the number of missing persons from their own ethnic group, that pro-government media are reinforcing the conviction that only one side was victimised and the side are “criminals”, and that the civilisational perspectives and humanitarian dimensions of the issue of missing persons have completely disappeared.

According to HLC and HLC Kosovo data, the fate of 1,669 missing persons from the war in Kosovo remain unknown (1,100 Albanians, 419 Serbs, and 150 others). Highly disturbing is the fact that the missing persons include 264 women, 287 persons under the age of 25, 446 aged 41 to 60 years, and 469 persons who were over the age of 60 at the time of their disappearance.