By Stefanos Evripidou
INTERNATIONAL member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Paul Henri Arni yesterday said work had to be accelerated to find the missing persons while their relatives are still alive otherwise the endeavour “makes no sense”.
He appealed to the EU, the two communities in Cyprus and other donors to help the CMP accelerate its work.
Speaking after the first joint visit of the two leaders to the CMP lab in the UN buffer zone, Arni said the CMP wants to accelerate its work to identify the more than 1,000 victims still missing.
“So, we will take steps to accelerate access to places, to accelerate investigation, to accelerate exhumation, to accelerate identification and to accelerate the return of the remains because we want to return these remains while the people are still alive otherwise it makes no sense at all,” he said.
He noted that the lab work is a “painfully long” process, and to accelerate it requires more money.
“We request, in addition to the present budget of close to €4 million, an additional €900,000 from donors from the EU, from both communities, from other donors in order to help us hire more staff, especially investigators, hire more machines that are expensive to excavate and pay the growing genetic analysis bills,” he said.
“With this, we will be able to accelerate and help families put an end to this terrible suffering.”
The CMP has exhumed the remains of nearly 1,100 individuals since 2007 and has identified and returned to their families the remains of 500 missing persons.
Over 1,000 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have yet to be found, leaving their families to “continue to suffer the unbearable pain of uncertainty over the fate of their loved ones”, said a CMP statement.
The CMP notes that the biggest challenge faced today is the “lack of reliable information” on the whereabouts of the missing.
“The CMP calls on all Cypriots who may have information on possible burial sites of missing persons to share this information with the CMP,” it said, noting that witnesses can request full confidentiality for any information shared.