Reference : V-P-FK-E-00057
Date : 22/06/2017
Caption : Near Darwin, Argentine military cemetery. After carefully pulling out the crosses and tombstones, forensic logicians used a small excavator to remove the earth above the coffins, and then small shovels and trowels to delicately unearth the bodies, wrapped in white bags. After 35 years in damp soil, the wood of the coffins had totally disintegrated.
Photographer : REVOL, Didier
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : Luis Fondebrider (centre) is the president of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team. In 1997, he headed the forensic team commissioned by the Cuban government to retrieve the body of Che Guevara in Vallegrande, Bolivia. He regularly collaborates with the ICRC.

The 1982 war between Argentina and the United Kingdom was brief but a source of intense pain for many families.

Over 900 soldiers died on both sides, with three civilians killed. Some disappeared in the fury of the battle or were laid to rest without being identified. More than 200 Argentine soldiers – 122 of them without any names – were buried in Darwin cemetery, at the heart of the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.

In 2017, an ICRC forensic team was able to identify 90 of them, to the relief of their surviving family members.

In March 2018, more than 200 of them visited Darwin cemetery to pay their respects.

The ICRC accepted this task based on its humanitarian mandate, the needs and interests of the families, and its extensive conflict-related forensics experience. The ICRC forensic team will treated the mortal remains with the utmost respect throughout this forensic operation. Any exhumed remains were placed in new coffins and immediately reburied in the same location. At the end of the project, the cemetery has been restored to its original condition.

A temporary mortuary had been set up at the cemetery, where the remains were analysed and samples collected for DNA testing in genetic laboratories in Argentina, Spain and the United Kingdom.

ICRC website, 18.04.2018, Photo gallery : Falkland/Malvinas Islands : Giving back the dead their names.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 4608x3072
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour