No new mass graves found in Kosovo, UN mission says

20 July 2001

Reacting to reports in the Belgrade media, the United Nations mission in Kosovo said today that there were no new mass graves in Suva Reka or anywhere else in the province.

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said in a statement that remarks by Monique Fienberg, an official reviewing the situation of missing persons in Kosovo with the Belgrade press, had been distorted in the media yesterday.

According to UNMIK, Ms. Fienberg said that of the approximately 1,200 unidentified bodies in Kosovo known to the UN Mission, some 900 had been buried in the Suva Reka area.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) conducted exhumations in Kosovo in 1999 and 2000. Of about 4,000 bodies exhumed, 1,256 could not be identified and were reburied - some in the municipalities where they had been found, others in the Suva Reka area.

"UNMIK has no way of determining the ethnicity of the unidentified bodies," the statement said. "Such distortions in the media have increased the anxiety and grief of all families of the missing in Kosovo."

The Mission said that its police was about to begin work on individual gravesites not exhumed by the ICTY, while UNMIK was "negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Commission on Missing Persons to begin DNA testing on the unidentified bodies, and with the families."

 

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