NICOSIA - The investigative Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) will need at least a decade to complete its task of identifying and returning the remains of the missing to their relatives if it continues at the present rates without additional funding.
This is that the committee’s third member Paul Henri-Arni told a news conference on Thursday noting that if the committee was to receive extra funds other than the €2.7 million annually it currently receives every year, it would be able to speed up results by a third or more.
“With the current rate of identifications, that is to say 130 a year, it will take us at least ten years to complete the task of identification and return of the missing to their families,” Arni said.
“Families of missing cannot wait that long and it is unacceptable for relatives to pass away without finding the remains of their loved ones,” he added.
Stressing that CMP’s task is significantly limited by insufficient funding, Arni noted there are 271 burial sites on the CMP exhumations list, nine of which are believed to have 20 remains each.
Around 200 remains are stored in the committee’s laboratory and are waiting identification.
Arni explained that around €30,000 is needed for exhumations every month while the identification process through the DNA method in the Sarajevo lab costs €1,500 per person.
It is estimated that €1 extra million is required for 40 additional identifications every year.
Arni said CMP will continue its cooperation with current donors and will approach new ones like countries of the Arabian Gulf while an appeal has already been made to members of the Council of Europe (CoE) to help with the committee’s task.
CMP recently visited the CoE and conveyed information on developments on its task while it had significant contacts with the Turkish Ambassador, Cyprus’ ambassador, the Council’s director general and the Commissioner for human rights issues of the CoE whom they invited to Cyprus for a major event for the relatives of the missing on April 12.
CMP has so far received contributions in memory of former President Glafcos Clerides that amount to €77,000.