The family members of 11 people who were missing in connection with the armed conflict of 1992-1993 in Abkhazia were informed that their loved ones were positively identified with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The remains of the missing people were recovered within the framework of the Coordination Mechanism on Persons Unaccounted for in Connection with the Events of 1992-1993 Armed Conflict and After, which has operated with the ICRC’s support since 2010 and involves both Abkhaz and Georgian participants.
On 7 December, a meeting was held at Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau, where the families had the opportunity to ask questions and receive information about the process of the search, recovery of remains and identification of their loved ones. The meeting was attended by the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia Tea Akhvlediani, the ICRC’s head of delegation Anne Montavon, representatives of national forensics bureau and ICRC experts. The remains were transferred to Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi for a public farewell ceremony, after which the day of the Icon for the Missing was also marked with a public prayer on 8 December.
“Today is a special day for 11 families. They have finally received the remains of their relatives, after decades of suffering and living without knowing what had happened to their loved ones who had gone missing in relation to the 1992-93 armed conflict in Abkhazia. It is very symbolic that it coincides with the day of the Icon for the Missing, when the Georgian Orthodox Church celebrates the ‘Three Joys of St Mary’ icon.
“Over 2,300 people are still unaccounted for in relation to past armed conflicts. A greater engagement of all sides is needed to find more missing people and support their families in a sustainable way. The process is in a transition phase now and we are all working together to ensure that there is a long-term and locally driven process in place, as well as a strong support system to address the diverse needs of the families of missing people. On behalf of the ICRC, I would like to reconfirm our commitment to this process and express deepest condolences to the families,” said Agnes Coutou, the ICRC Envoy on missing persons in Caucasus.
Since the inception of the two coordination mechanisms in 2010 (one working in connection with the 1992-93 armed conflict in Abkhazia and the other one in connection with the armed conflicts of the 1990s and 2008 of South Ossetia), the remains of up to 598 people have been recovered. Of these, the remains of 230 people have been identified and handed over to their families. In total, 2,315 people, including military personnel and civilians, are still reported as missing in connection with the armed conflicts of 1990s and August 2008.
The work continues for clarifying what happened to the missing people and their whereabouts.