Locating remains of missing persons in Cyprus becomes more difficult

The work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus becomes gradually more difficult, as attested by the fact that only eight successful excavations were recorded since the beginning of 2018.

Nestoras Nestoros, the Greek Cypriot member of the CMP, told CNA that the work of the CMP has run into difficulties in the last few months, as the CMP statistics reflect from the beginning of 2018 until April 30.

According to the same data, the number of individuals exhumed last year were 49, down from 114 in 2016 and 156 in 2015.

At the same time, CMP teams continue with excavations in eight locations in the Turkish occupied part of the island and one location in the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

Ankara submitted a memorandum on this issue, ahead of a Committee of Ministers meeting in Strasbourg, next week, saying that the Turkish side continues to respond to specific requests of the CMP. Inter alia, Ankara says that an archive committee provided recently aerial photos of 1974 and also gave information about the exact location of military areas in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus to help the CMP to prepare its excavation planning for the following years.

I state categorically that no such information was passed to the CMP Nestoros said, when asked to comment on the issue. He added that the reduction of successful excavations is not unrelated to this matter.

According to data from the CMP, identifications also follow a downward trend, from 118 identifications in 2017 to 13 in the first four months of 2018. From the 13 identified this year, 12 were Greek Cypriots and one Turkish Cypriot.

Thus, the number of Greek Cypriots identified so far is 659, with 851 still missing. There are also 211 identifications of Turkish Cypriots, with 281 still missing.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Hundreds of Greek Cypriots went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, most of them combatants but also women, children and elderly people. During the same period and in the early 1960 when intercommunal fighting broke out Turkish Cypriots went missing too.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

The CMP is a tripartite intercommunal investigatory committee comprising a representative of the Greek Cypriot community, a representative of the Turkish Cypriot community, and a Third Member nominated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and appointed by the UN Secretary General.

Source: Cyprus News Agency