About 10,000 people are still missing in Bosnia and Herzegovinia.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 31/08/12
People release balloons with names of missing persons into the air in Omarska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. [Reuters]
BiH and the region are marked the International Day of Missing Persons on Thursday (August 30th) with sadness and disbelief, while authorities are still searching for the thousands who are still missing, mostly from past wars.
Meliha Nedic from Visegrad has been searching for the tomb and bones of her father, Muhamed, for 20 years. He was taken from the family house by Serb soldiers at the beginning of the war in 1992 in the vicinity of Visegrad, after which he disappeared without a trace.
"In May this year, I found the bones of my brother. He was assassinated in 1992 and his body was thrown into the river Drina. The body was found 20km from the place of murder in Lake Perucac," she told SETimes.
"I'm still looking for my father. It would be much easier for me to know where his grave is. I know that he is dead and I don't have some illusion that he is disappeared and will show up. None of the government or people responsible for searching the missing has contacted me to say any information about my father," she said.
Nearly 10,000 people from the conflict are still missing from BiH. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), which organised the marking of anniversary in the town of Mostar, has found and identified about 22,000 missing people in BiH in the past 11 years.
"It is difficult to predict when the process of searching will be finished due to the increasing lack of information on mass or clandestine gravesites," ICMP spokeswoman Aida Alic told SETimes.
"BiH still needs to provide a strong missing persons institute, the full implementation of the law on missing and finalisation of the verification of the central records. It would also be important for BiH to create a state-level forensic institute, which is something that exits in most countries."
The biggest mass grave in BiH was discovered in 2003 near the town Zvornik at Mountain Crni Vrh (Black Top). Investigators found more than 700 bodies that were later identified as civilian Bosniaks killed between 1994 and 1995.
Serb officials marked the international observance on the mountain of Ozren, where about 150 Serbian soldiers and civilians were killed during the conflict.
Nedeljko Mitrovic, president of Republika Sprska's Organisation of Families of Captured, Killed Missing Soldiers and Civilians, said that the victims' families are outraged with the work of authorities.
"Only 102 soldiers and civilians who have been found since the formation of the institute were Serb nationality and it tells you what kind of practice they run. We have complained numerous times to judicial authorities, but it was all for nothing," Mitrovic told SETimes.
About 2,300 people are still missing in Croatia, most of them from the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s. More than 1,700 are Croatian citizens.
More than 1,700 are still missing from the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo.
Families of the disappeared in Kacanik and Lipjan, which have a small number of missing persons, were selected this year to be visited by authorities.
"In this way we want to demonstrate that even for a single missing person we are concerned and interested to be beside their families," Prenk Gjetaj the chairman of the Government Commission for Missing Persons, told reporters.
Many of those missing have been kidnapped, Gjetaj noted, insisting that no one can prejudge the fate of missing people. Authorities in charge of missing persons in Pristina and Belgrade have been co-operating in recent years on this matter, but no significant results have been achieved.
SETimes correspondent Safet Kabashaj from Pristina contributed to this report.