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Risk of ‘remaining forever missing’ highlighted by relatives

Relatives of missing persons on Thursday expressed concerns over the “disappointing” results of late regarding the location and exhumation of remains.

In a written statement on the occasion of the Missing Persons Day marked by Cyprus on October 29, the Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons, said the risk of hundreds of missing “remaining forever missing” was visible.

The group referred to “lack of empathy” by Turkey.

Hopes that had risen 16 years after the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) started exhuming, identifying and returning remains of missing persons to their relatives, they said, “tend to prove false.”

“We understand the practical and other difficulties faced by the CMP, but the main problem is lack of sincere cooperation, which is clearly proven by the current refusal of those who have information to submit it to the CMP,” the organisation said.

They referred to information regarding landfills and places where the remains of missing people were moved, and information contained in the archives of the Turkish army and the occupying regime. “The information is proven to exist. What is lacking is the political will to give it to the CMP.”

The group said that it must be understood by all that such thorny humanitarian issues must be resolved without further delay. “This is not only a humanitarian obligation of all of us, but will also contribute to the consolidation of a climate of mutual trust between the two communities, a necessary condition for the efforts being made today to find a just and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem.”

They added that they expect that the issue of the missing persons, and in particular the difficulties faced by the CMP, would be “seriously addressed” by the leaders of the United Nations, under whose auspices the CMP operates, to finally make the committee effective and worthy of its humanitarian mission, “which cannot be other than verifying the fate of all the missing, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.”

They said they would continue and intensify their efforts in every possible direction until “the fate of every missing person in Cyprus is discovered.”

Cyprus’ House of Representatives declared October 29 as Missing Persons Day in 2010 to honour the missing persons of the 1974 war and their families.

Since that day in 1974, when the exchange of war prisoners was completed, the group said hundreds of Cypriots who were proven to have been captured by the invading Turkish troops or those who, in many cases did not return after the end of the hostilities, have been added to the list of missing persons, which is one of the tragic problems caused by the Turkish invasion.

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