By Mary Spyrou

The Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) is “particularly concerned” over the dramatic reduction in the number of human remains found in recent exhumations, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said on Wednesday.

Photiou said it was the responsibility of all, especially the UN and the European Union, “to persuade and pressure the occupying power to finally work together with sincerity and humanity to resolve the issues so that progress can be made for the benefit of the families.”

During a speech at the 36th Marathon of Love for the Missing, at the Makedonitissa Timvos Cemetery, Photiou said while the work of the CMP is widely recognised, the problems and challenges which concern the effectiveness of the exhumation programme still exist “and the occupying power is responsible for this.”

The solution of the humanitarian problem was a top priority for the government, he added.

Addressing the relatives of the missing, he said the efforts would continue.

“The passage of time is not going to reduce our efforts… this is our commitment to all of you. It is our firm position that every family of a missing person has the right to be informed about the fate of their loved one with convincing and compelling evidence and this is the responsibility of all of us.”

The CMP was founded in 1981 by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the support of the UN to find the remains of people who were reported missing during the inter-communal fighting in the 1960s and the events of 1974. A total of 493 Turkish Cypriots and 1,508 Greek Cypriots were officially reported to the CMP.

To date, 722 Greek Cypriots have been identified and 788 still considered missing while 284 Turkish Cypriots have been identified and 208 still missing.