Last Update: 20:13
In the past ten years 558 Greek Cypriots and 184 Turkish Cypriots who were missing were identified and their remains returned to their families. However, for the remaining 950 Greek Cypriots and 309 Turkish Cypriots missing, the wounds remain open — they are still unaccounted for, and time is running out.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the programme of excavation and exhumation across the island to recover the remains of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who have been missing since the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The grim task has been undertaken by the Committee on Missing Persons.
“It’s been going on for so long, it’s such a toxic and painful issue for Cypriots. Cypriots are people who love their families and who were confronted with such violence between these two periods, 1963-64 and 1974 and so many people went missing that it has created such a trauma.” This is how the Third Member of the CMP, Paul-Henri Arni, describes this humanitarian issue.
The CMP has given permission to CNA to visit an excavation site at Turkish occupied Angastina village and the CMP Anthropological Laboratory (CAL) located in the UN Protected Area (UNPA) near the defunct Nicosia International Airport. The task of the archaeologists, geologists, anthropologists, geneticists and volunteers is not one to be taken light-heartedly. It is a humanitarian mission, one that they take pride in.
The Committee on Missing Persons represents both sides, Greek Cypriot Member Nestoras Nestoros, Turkish Cypriot Gülden Plümer Kücük and Arni, Third Member, selected by the ICRC with the agreement of both sides, and appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
One of the few functioning institutionalized bi-communal bodies in Cyprus, the CMP’s work is carried out through the collaboration of young scientists from both Cypriot communities. Over the past year, the CMP has doubled its laboratory capacity and increased the number of bone samples sent for DNA extraction. It relies on substantial donor assistance and the EU contributes 75% of the funds needed.
Watch this video to learn more about the phases of the excavation and identification process of Cyrpus’ missing persons: