The remains of 23 individuals who had been missing since the 1992-1993 armed conflict in Georgia’s now Russian-occupied Abkhazia region were handed over to their families on Wednesday, in the latest stage of the process involving the Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The families had the opportunity to receive information about the search and recovery of the remains and identification of their relatives during the meetings at the Tbilisi-based National Forensics Bureau that also involved Thea Akhvlediani, the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civil Equality, representatives of the Bureau and the Red Cross, the ICRC said.
Extending her condolences to the families, Anne Montavon, the head of the ICRC delegation in Georgia, stressed the Georgian authorities had “significantly stepped up” their involvement in the support of families through organising commemoration and “other events” this year.
She pledged the process of transition, “by which Georgian authorities take increased responsibility over the search of missing people, forensic work and in providing support to the families of the missing”, would continue next year.
Families need to be closely associated with these processes to ensure their views are taken into account and to inform future decisions”, Montavon said.
The remains of more than 55 people missing since the conflict have been identified and returned to their families this year as part of the humanitarian Coordination Mechanism on Persons Unaccounted For in Connection with the Events of the 1992–1993 Armed Conflict and After.
The Mechanism involves Abkhaz and Georgian participants and operates with the ICRC's support since 2010.
Since the inception of the platform, the remains of 273 people - recovered from different locations in Abkhazia - have been identified and handed over to their families, the ICRC said, adding 1,870 people, including combatants and civilians, were still missing.