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Families of Srebrenica missing still searching for answers

Monday July 11, 2005

11 July 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of the fall of the town of Srebrenica to Bosnian Serb forces and the subsequent murder of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims - the most serious war crime in Europe since World War II.

Ten years on many of the scars caused by the conflict have not yet healed, and the families of more than 14,500 persons reported missing in Bosnia-Herzegovina - including over 5,000 missing persons from Srebrenica - are still waiting for evidence of what exactly happened to their relatives.

'The fact that the missing are almost certainly dead takes nothing away from the suffering their families are experiencing every day. Not knowing the fate of their loved ones continues to place an intolerable burden on these families,' said Mr Robert Tickner, CEO of Australian Red Cross.

The Red Cross urges the relevant authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to do everything in their power to provide information on all missing persons, in order to help families move on with their lives.

'We cannot undo what happened in Srebrenica, but we can help reduce the pain of those still waiting to hear what exactly happened to their relatives killed in Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina,' added Mr Tickner.

Australian Red Cross continues to support families from the whole of the Balkans in their search for answers. Most recently an Ante Mortem Data project was carried out throughout the country, allowing family members to provide additional information about missing persons through individual interviews.

'Since the start of AMD project we have collected over 70 questionnaires, each containing over 200 questions about the missing person. Even though there is no guarantee of a positive identification, families nevertheless greatly valued the fact that the Red Cross has not forgotten their pain and trauma,' concluded Mr Tickner.

The exact number of those missing in Srebrenica may never be known. So far family members of 7,628 people have asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to register them, with 5,479 of those cases still open.

Families in Australia from the Balkans who wish to offer AMD for the purpose of identifying missing relatives may still do so by contacting their local Red Cross Office.