War in Ukraine: ICRC investigates fate of 23,000 missing people

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Monday February 19 that it wanted to “shed light on the fate of 23,000 people who disappeared” during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine

War in Ukraine: ICRC investigates fate of 23,000 missing people

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Monday February 19 that it wanted to “shed light on the fate of 23,000 people who disappeared” during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “Opened in March 2022, the office of the ICRC Central Tracing Agency (CTA) for the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine” is dedicated to searching for people missing in this conflict, “whether they have been captured, killed or separated from their families” following the fighting, the ICRC said.

“Being without news from a loved one is real torture, a constant anguish. Tens of thousands of families are faced with this tragic reality. They have the right to know what happened to their loved ones and, when possible, to exchange news with them,” said Dusan Vujasanin, Head of the ACR Office.

The institution specifies that, over the last two years, more than 115,000 tracing requests have been sent by families from Ukraine and Russia, whether by telephone or through its online platforms. , by mail or during face-to-face interviews. “As of January 31, 2024, the ICRC, with the help of several national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies – in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere – had helped 8,000 families obtain information on the fate of their relatives or the place where they were", points out the ICRC press release.

Geneva Conventions and neutrality

The ACR Office is the first ICRC office set up specifically for an international conflict in over thirty years. This mission is the most important since the Second World War. In accordance with the Geneva Conventions, each country has established a national information bureau (BNR) responsible for collecting, centralizing and transmitting information relating to protected persons (such as prisoners of war and civilian internees) who are between their countries. hands, explained the ICRC.

“I am so happy to know that my son is alive. I hadn't heard from him in about two months. I was like dead during this period,” a mother testified to the ICRC. The ACR office “allowed thousands of people to reconnect with a loved one of whom they had lost track or to obtain information on what had happened to them,” said Mr. Vujasanin. But so many others are still waiting and uncertain. »

Acting as a neutral intermediary between Russia and Ukraine, the ACR office collects, centralizes and records this information, then transmits it to the relevant side. Parties to an international conflict are “required to treat those under their control humanely and to ensure that the dead are cared for in a dignified manner,” the ICRC stressed.