In his latest report on the fate of 605 Kuwaitis who went missing in Iraq after the 1990 invasion of their country and the subsequent Gulf War, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says 340 bodies have already been repatriated.
Their positive identification will mean that in the near future about one half of the Kuwaiti and third-country detainees who disappeared in Iraq will have found their final resting place, according to the report presented to the Security Council today. The number of those so far identified has risen from 92 to 167.
The Council was briefed in closed consultations by Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, the High-Level Coordinator on the issue of the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains.
At the end of last year Mr. Annan held out little hope of finding any of the missing still alive. "After many years of manoeuvring and denial by the previous Government of Iraq, a grim truth is unveiling itself," he said. "The discovery of mass graves in Iraq containing the mortal remains of Kuwaitis is a gruesome and devastating development."
Following the Council's meeting, its President, Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov, read a statement to the press voicing hope that Mr. Vorontsov would soon be able to visit Iraq to press forward with his work.
Ambassador Denisov also welcomed Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari's pledge to assist in the search for those who remain missing.