Iraq and Kuwait have made some progress on the ground over the past year in their joint efforts to search for persons and property missing since the 1990-91 Gulf War, the Security Council said today, calling on the neighbouring countries to maintain the spirit of cooperation to enhance relations and regional stability.
But while some positive developments have occurred since October last year, “no confirmed remains of Kuwaiti or third-country nationals have been found” during that period, according to a press statement read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month.
Some 369 people are still listed as missing since the end of the Gulf War that erupted when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
Today’s press statement followed a briefing to the Council’s by Ambassador Gennady Tarasov, the Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator for the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and the repatriation of Kuwaiti property.
Mr. Tarasov briefed the 15-member panel on the latest Secretary-General’s report on the issue, which noted that a confidence- and cooperation-building period between Iraq and Kuwait – which was launched in April last year – had proven useful.
“It has helped to strengthen the practical cooperation between the parties concerned and to streamline the activities of various Iraqi Government bodies and institutions… thus demonstrating that a genuine effort can bring results,” the report stated.
The Council statement noted several recent positive developments, including the discovery of missing Iraqis in Kuwait and the implementation of a plan to investigate the possibility that missing Kuwaitis may be found at new burial sites in Iraq.
Council members also welcomed a series of measures taken by the Iraqi Government, such as the publication of the names and pictures of missing persons on the website of the Iraqi human rights ministry, coupled with a request for anyone with information to come forward.
In addition, Kuwait is spending almost $1 million to fund a project backed by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to help build the capacity of the Iraqi human rights ministry in mass grave excavations and the identification of missing persons.
However, the press statement said only “limited progress” has been made recently on clarifying the fate of the Kuwaiti national archives.
The Council also agreed today to finance the activities of the High-Level Coordinator for another six months.