British MPs Jim Sheridan and Alan Meale have pointed out the need to intensify efforts for the investigation of the fate of missing persons from both communities on the island, describing the issue of missing persons as a purely humanitarian one.

Sheridan and Meale were speaking during a press conference held Thursday in Nicosia to present Sheridan’s report on the issue of missing persons in Europe following a number of armed conflicts over recent decades.

The report was adopted unanimously last week by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The report notes, inter alia, that solving the problem of missing persons is vital for establishing reconciliation between warring factions and ensuring peace on the European continent.

It also says that the two of the main reasons why the problem of missing persons has not yet been solved are lack of political will and individual’s fear of reprisals.

The Parliamentary Assembly reminds the member states of the Council of Europe of their obligation to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons under human rights and international humanitarian law and calls both member states and relevant de facto authorities to speed up the process of exhumation and identification of the remains of missing persons and to bring the truth of their fate to family and friends.
Both British Members expressed the need to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and in particular the issue of missing persons.

They also stressed the need to intensify efforts to investigate the fate of missing persons from both communities on the island, adding that the issue of missing persons should be addressed as a purely humanitarian.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
As a result of the invasion, 1619 Greek-Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield. Among them, however, were many civilians, women and children, arrested by the Turkish invasion troops and Turkish-Cypriot paramilitary groups, within the area controlled by the Turkish army after the end of hostilities and far away from the battlefield.

Many of those missing were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military.
A further 41 more cases of Greek Cypriot missing persons have been recently added. These cases concern the period between 1963-1964, when inter-communal fighting broke out but none of them has been identified yet.

The number of Turkish Cypriot missing since 1974 and 1963/64 stands at 503. Since the establishment of CMP in 2006 a total of 747 burial sites were visited and opened. Of the above 486 sites did not contain any human remains. According to CMP data, the remains of 23 missing persons were identified in 2012, 51 in 2011, 67 in 2010, 86 in 2009, 54 in 2008 and 56 in 2007.

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