Georgia government sets up commission to look for missing persons in conflict
The Georgian government has created a special interdepartmental commission to search for the remains of those who went missing during armed conflicts in the country. Its functions will include reburying the dead if necessary.
According to the Minister of State for Reconciliation and Civil Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, the main task of the commission is to find out the whereabouts or burial sites of 2,300 people who went missing as a result of armed conflicts in Georgia.
She said that the commission will include 10 representatives of various departments and “will work intensively and in a coordinated fashion.”
The decision was made at a government meeting on October 24.
The recent history of Georgia since 1990 has had three armed conflicts: in South Ossetia (1990-1992), the Abkhaz war (1992-1993), and the August Russian-Georgian war (2008).
According to official figures, a total of 2,300 people are still missing; the Red Cross has been looking for remains for nine years.
In 2010, again, under the auspices of the Red Cross, two search mechanisms were created: a bilateral Georgian-Abkhazian and a tripartite Georgian-Russian-Ossetian one. It was thanks to these negotiations in this format that it became possible to exhume the bodies of the mass grave in Babushera (Abkhazia).
From 2010 to this day, the remains of 325 people have been found and 178 people identified. Their remains have been transferred to their families. The process of identifying the rest continues.
The first phase of this Red Cross project is ending in 2021, and what will happen next is not yet clear.
Tsikhelashvili says that the Georgian government should use this period with maximum efficiency:
“We must organize a very intensive and coordinated process, especially since the phrase of the Red Cross will last until 2021. Despite the participation of such an influential organization, 2,300 people are still missing. This is a lot. Therefore, we are obliged to work effectively, of course, together with the Red Cross, which plays a large role in this process,” said Tsikhelashvili.
The State Minister emphasized that “there is” an exclusively humanitarian process to ascertain the fate of people who are considered missing.”
“I urge everyone who has any information concerning people missing during the armed conflicts, and all those affected by such a disaster, to turn to the commission,” the state minister said.