the fate of the 23,000 missing at the heart of an ICRC investigation – L’Express

the fate of the 23000 missing at the heart of

“Shed light on the fate of 23,000 people” missing since the outbreak of the conflict in February 2022. This is the mission that the Office of the Central Tracing Agency (CRA) of the Red Cross has given itself for the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine since its creation in March 2022. The first ICRC Office established specifically for an international conflict in more than 30 years.

“Whether they have been captured, killed or separated from their loved ones as a result of the fighting, their absence is a terrible ordeal for their families,” argues the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a statement published this Monday, February 19. A reality that “tens of thousands of families” are faced with, insists the president of the ACR Office, Dusan Vujasanin. And to emphasize: “They have the right to know what happened to their loved ones and, when possible, to exchange news with them.”

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Out of 115,000 requests, 8,000 were successful

As of January 31, 8,000 families would have benefited from assistance in obtaining information about their loved ones and their whereabouts. A victory for the head of the ACR Office, responsible for collecting, centralizing and recording this information, to transmit it to the camp concerned. “When we manage to make the link between a search request and the information received from the BNR, it is a huge relief.”

However, many families still have no news of their missing loved ones. “We have enabled thousands of people to reconnect with a loved one of whom they had lost track or to obtain information about what had happened to them. But so many others are still waiting and uncertain” , concedes Dusan Vujasanin.

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“The figure of 23,000 represents the number of people – children or adults – for whom members of their families have opened a request, specifies our colleagues from franceinfo Achille Desprès, spokesperson for the ICRC in Ukraine. So this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.”

The ACR Office, a neutral body

And for good reason, in total, nearly 115,000 research requests have been sent to the organization since its creation two years earlier. Reports by telephone, via its online platforms, by mail or during face-to-face interviews, from Ukrainian families but also from Russian families.

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Because in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, the ACR Office for the International Armed Conflict between Russia and Ukraine acts as a “neutral intermediary between Russia and Ukraine” and thus indeed works on both sides from the front line.