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Kosovo: Families of the missing commemorate their loved ones

In August 2015, 1,654 people were still unaccounted for following the 1998–1999 conflict in Kosovo. To keep their memory alive and to mark the International Day of the Disappeared 2015, families of the missing and family associations, with the support of the ICRC, held a series of commemorative events.

Lexoni këtë storie në gjuhën shqipe
Pročitaj ovu priču na Srpskom jeziku

Events began on 27 August 2015 with visits to the villages of Kralan/Kraljane, Gjakovë/Djakovica, Izbicë/Izbica and Skenderaj/Srbica made by a delegation of family associations and representatives of the Kosovo Government Commission on Missing Persons (GCMP).

The International Day of the Disappeared was also marked by Serbian family associations in Graçanica/Graçanicë, where families of missing persons and family association representatives gathered in front of a town centre monument to pay homage to their loved ones.

Later the same day, the Department of Forensic Medicine unveiled a photo exhibition in Pristina presenting its work with families of missing persons and the process of exhuming, identifying and handing over human remains.

The photo exhibition held by the Department of Forensic Medicine, Pristina. It retraced 15 years of exhumations in various sites in Kosovo and Serbia.
© ICRC

The main event was held on the International Day of the Disappeared itself – 30 August – in Pristina. Families of the missing gathered in front of the Kosovo Parliament building, where a new memorial to the missing had been inaugurated earlier in 2015.

Family members of the missing, young and old, came together holding images of their loved ones and called for increased commitment from the international community and national authorities. Family association representatives and the prime minister laid flowers on the memorial.

 

Families of missing persons holding photos of their loved ones in Pristina
© ICRC

 

 

Families of missing persons holding photos of their loved ones in Pristina
© ICRC

Families of the missing and other participants then walked from the Kosovo Parliament building to Mother Teresa Square in the centre of Pristina, where they wrote messages and posted them on human silhouettes, symbolically representing those still missing.

 
                                                                         © ICRC

Students from the Academy of Arts commemorated the day by producing a series of paintings asking “Where are they?” and indicating the current number of missing persons.

     
© ICRC
                                                                    © ICRC

 
Later in the evening, the NGO Youth Initiative for Human Rights displayed 1,654 empty white chairs with a question mark hanging on each chair, symbolizing the current number of missing persons. On a stage in front of the chairs classical music was played as the names of the missing persons were read out.


© Youth Initiative for Human Rights

To learn more about the ICRC’s activities on missing persons in Kosovo and the Western Balkans more generally, please browse to: Missing Persons in the Western Balkans.



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