The remains of 80 missing persons from the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been found this year — an increase on last year, when searches were slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Bosnia Finds More Wartime Missing Persons in 2021

Photographs of wartime missing persons in the Hadzici municipality. Photo: BIRN.

The Bosnian Missing Persons Institute said that that a total of 76 exhumations and 28 surface searches at suspected burial sites of war victims were carried out from January to the end of November this year, and significantly more victims’ remains were found compared to 2020.

During these 11 months, remains of 80 victims of the war were discovered, compared to 53 victims in the same period in 2020, Missing Persons Institute spokesperson Emza Fazlic told BIRN.

Fazlic said that 71 war victims’ remains were identified, 60 per cent more compared than in the same period in 2020, when the pandemic slowed down the search for the remaining wartime missing.

“Summing up the results to the end of November this year, I would like to point out that throughout the year we intensified our activities and achieved much better results compared to the year before in every way,” Fazlic said.

Last year the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic delayed the decades-long search for several thousand people whose bodies have not been found since the end of the war in 1995.

Ferida Nisic, secretary of the Association for Tracing the Captured and Missing from Hadzici, said that none of the 74 people from the Hadzici area whose remains are still being sought were found in 2021.

“It gets harder and harder,” Nisic said, explaining that due to the passage of time, war victims’ relatives are dying without ever finding their loved ones’ remains.

Mladen Zivkovic of the Association of Families of the Captured and Missing of Republika Srpska, raised similar concerns.

“Considerably fewer people are being found now. More and more people are dying,” Zivkovic said.

He added that the lack of information about hidden grave sites remains a major problem.

“I spoke to investigators from the Ministry of Internal Affairs who deal with war crimes, and they told me that they only receive information from people who are on the verge of death,” he said.

According to the Bosnian Missing Persons Institute, 32,000 people disappeared during the war, and more than 7,000 of them have yet to be found.

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