Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: ICRC to help trace missing persons

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday said that out of a reported 20,000 complaints, 2,200 persons have been confirmed as missing in the last 12 years of the war.

Since 1990, the families of 20,000 missing combatants and civilians have requested ICRC assistance to trace their whereabouts, the ICRC said.

Following these requests the ICRC has submitted the details to the relevant authorities in order to locate the persons deemed missing.

ICRC Spokesman Sukumar Rockwood however said that 11,000 such complaints are still unresolved. This included the 2,200 which are now confirmed missing.

The ICRC is now working on the remaining 8,800 requests in an attempt to trace the missing persons . Three thousand and seven hundred thirty six security forces personnel are accounted in the list of those missing in action, according to the Ministry of Defence.

This includes 3,352 army personnel, 342 sailors, six Police and Special Task Force personnel and 36 others. Seventeen thousand and four hundred twenty three security forces personnel had been killed in the conflict.

No statistics of the number of LTTE cadres missing is available, though the Tigers said 17,648 cadres of which 3,766 were women had been killed during the 19 years of conflict.

The LTTE has time and again asserted that it did not have any Security Forces' personnel in its custody in response to pleas by relatives of missing soldiers who have urged the government to obtain the release of soldier detainees.

LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham last month, in a revelation which stunned the nation claimed that the former government's refusal to accept the bodies of fallen combatants left the LTTE with no alternative, but to cremate the remains.

However chairperson of the Association of Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action Vishaka Dharmadasa refused to accept that there were no captives with the LTTE calling on the Government to probe the LTTE claim of mass cremations of soldiers' bodies.

The ICRC organises an international conference on missing persons in Geneva from today to February 21.