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Security Council reiterates concerns over fate of Kuwaitis missing since 1990

Security Council reiterates concerns over fate of Kuwaitis missing since 1990

Voicing regret that there has been little recent progress on recovering and identifying the remains of Kuwaitis and other nationals missing since Iraq’s 1990 invasion, Security Council members today called for renewed efforts to determine their fate and that of the missing Kuwaiti national archive.

In a statement to the press read out by Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, which holds the rotating presidency this month, the 15-member body offered its condolences to the families of those missing persons whose remains have been identified, and its sympathies to those whose whereabouts are still unknown.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his most recent report on the issue, noted that since May the number of Kuwaitis and other nationals whose remains were identified remains unchanged, at 233, with no exhumations conducted this year.

Mr. Ban wrote that “Kuwait is unable to send field missions to Iraq to perform search, assessment and exhumation activities as long as the security situation in Iraq remains dangerous.” In addition, efforts to convince Iraqi witnesses to come to Kuwait and provide relevant information have so far been unsuccessful.

In the meantime, Kuwait has been gathering information about burial sites in Iraq in preparation for dispatching technical teams to the war-torn country as soon as the situation there stabilizes. Security permitting, it hopes to send a technical team to Iraq in early 2008 to carry out identification procedures at one such site.

“Council members strongly condemned the execution of Kuwaiti and third country nationals by the former Iraqi regime, in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the statement added. “Security Council members repeated their view that those responsible for these horrendous crimes should be brought to justice.”

Earlier, the Council was briefed on the issue by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane, on behalf of Yuli Vorontsov, the Secretary-General’s High Level Coordinator on the issue.

Council members commended the cooperation of Iraq, Kuwait and other members of the Tripartite Commission, and said they were confident that all the parties could work towards a solution to the remaining humanitarian aspects of the issue.