International Red Cross Chief Visits Zagreb

By 22 February 2018

ZAGREB, February 22, 2018 - Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on Wednesday called on former Yugoslav countries to step up their efforts in shedding light on the fate of people gone missing in the 1990s wars, noting that it was high time to solve that humanitarian issue.

Daccord met in Zagreb with Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, and representatives of families of missing persons.

The ICRC official visited Croatia to announce the ICRC's additional engagement in searching international archives and to encourage national governments to cooperate better in delivering information from national archives regarding missing persons.

Representatives of associations of families of people gone missing in the 1991-95 war in Croatia informed Daccord of their meeting with Serbian President Alenksandar Vučić on Tuesday, stressing that now the political situation was favourable to deal with the issue of missing persons.

The ICRC director-general agreed that it was high time to step up efforts to shed light on the fate of the missing. When people go missing, that is exclusively a humanitarian issue and it should be treated as such. We want the government to step up efforts in the search for 2,050 people who are still unaccounted for in Croatia. That can happen only if regional governments and organisations communicate with each other, said Daccord.

At his meeting with the Croatian prime minister, the ICRC official expressed concern about what he described as a drastic slowdown in efforts to deal with the problem of missing persons, while PM Plenković called for taking into account existing initiatives and asked the ICRC to propose specific activities to facilitate the process.

At the meeting at the Office of the President, President Grabar-Kitarović stressed that the issue of missing persons should be treated as a humanitarian issue and recalled that it was one of the priority topics during a recent visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Zagreb.

Daccord said the ICRC appreciated Grabar-Kitarović's position on the problem and was willing to provide all possible assistance in dealing with it.

The two sides expressed hope that the coming months would bring progress given that the Croatian and Serbian commissions for missing persons would meet soon as would the two countries' presidents and representatives of families of missing persons from Croatia and Serbia.