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Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
3,000 missing in Kosovo
Demonstration about missing people
Most of the missing are Kosovo Albanians
More than 3,000 people remain unaccounted for in the wake of the Kosovo conflict, according to a document published by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Most of these are presumed dead, officials say.

The ICRC says the majority of the missing 3,368 people are men, mostly from the Kosovo Albanian community - though some Serbs and Roma are also still unaccounted for.

Missing
2,500 Albanians
400 Serbs
100 Roma

1,000 previously missing Albanians now traced
The organisation hopes the publication of the document will press the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade for more information about those who have disappeared over the past two-and-a-half years.

The report is also intended to reassure the families of the missing that their relatives have not been forgotten.

Abductions

Just over 2,000 of these are believed to have been abducted by Yugoslav security forces before or during last year's Nato attacks on Kosovo.


Today and every week more cases are reported to the ICRC, not only of disappearances but also killings in the most brutal and despicable way

Alain Kolly, ICRC
The ICRC has succeeded in tracing more than missing 1,000 Kosovo Albanians, who were found in Serbian prisons.

But the organisation has failed to locate several hundred Serbs and Roma, many of whom disappeared after the conflict ended - and the last appeal, four months ago, has failed to yield a breakthrough.

Alain Kolly, head of the ICRC mission in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, called on the Albanian and Serbian communities bring an end to their ongoing dispute.

Coffins draped with Albanian flags
2,500 bodies have been exhumed and reburied
"Today and every week more cases are reported to the ICRC, not only of disappearances but also killings in the most brutal and despicable way," he said.

Hopes fade

The head of ICRC operations in the Balkans, Andreas Wigger, says the chances of finding many of the missing alive are fading.

"We have unfortunately to assume that most of these people are dead, based on our experience in other contexts," he told the BBC.

The ICRC figures suggest, however, that the earlier estimates by the United States of the number of people killed in the Kosovo conflict was inflated.

The US put the death toll at 10,000 - well above the 2,500 bodies which have been exhumed, and the 3,000 missing people which the ICRC presumes to be dead.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clare Doole
"ICRC hopes the book of the missing will become slimmer and slimmer"
See also:

18 May 00 | Europe
17 Mar 00 | Europe
28 Feb 00 | Europe
17 Feb 00 | Europe
16 Mar 00 | Europe
07 Jun 00 | UK Politics
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