Reference : V-P-IRIQ-E-00022
Date : 30/11/2008
Country/Region : IRAQ; IRAN
Caption : Shalmjah border. Repatriation operation of the mortal remains of soldiers killed of the Iran-Iraq war, under the aegis of the ICRC. Iranian soldiers mortal remains carried inside Iranian soil.
Photographer : PULA, Fitore
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : 30-11-2008 News release 08/224

Twenty years after the end of the war, tens of thousands of members of the Iraqi and Iranian armed forces, including some who were prisoners of war, remain unaccounted for.

The remains of a total of 41 Iranian soldiers, 10 of whom are identified, and of 200 Iraqis, 23 of whom are identified, were handed over to their respective authorities in the presence of ICRC delegates acting as neutral intermediaries on both sides of the border.

The bodies of the Iraqi soldiers were taken to Al Zubeir centre run by the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, in Basra, where they will be handed over to their families following examinations by forensic experts. The bodies of the Iranian soldiers will be transferred to the Mearaj Centre of Iran's search and recovery committee for those missing in action, in Tehran, to be identified and handed over to the families concerned.

"The return of the bodies is important for the families of the dead and an essential element in the process of dealing with the past," said Jamila Hammami, an ICRC delegate in charge of the missing persons file for Iraq, who was present at the handover of the bodies. "These families have been expecting the return of their loved ones for a very long time. They never lost hope and today maybe some of them will finally find peace."

The operation was carried out as a goodwill gesture following the signature by the Iraqi and Iranian governments of a framework memorandum of understanding in Geneva in October. The document, signed jointly with the ICRC, aimed to clarify the fate of persons missing in connection with the 1980-1988 war. It established a clear framework for collecting information and sharing it between the two countries, and for handing over mortal remains. These tasks are performed jointly by experts from both countries with ICRC support.

"We welcome this important step," said Ms Hammami. "The ICRC will continue to help Iran and Iraq to provide answers for many families on both sides still waiting for information on what happened to their missing relatives."

Original material : digital
Resolution : 3148x1998
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour