The House Committee on Refugees learned about progress in the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP), during a meeting on Tuesday, in Nicosia, with the CMP’s Greek Cypriot member, Leonidas Pantelides.
CMP members explained that the process of research is time-consuming and complicated, but progress was made recently with the use of modern technology.
The MPs attending the meeting were briefed about the difficulties encountered by the research teams during each stage of the process. Some of the factors affecting their work include the presence of military facilities in many areas throughout the Turkish-occupied territories, built-up areas as well as areas that were turned into parks or forests, by planting trees on top of burial areas.
The representative of the Greek Cypriot Community in the CMP, Leonidas Pantelides, stated after the meeting that “research efforts have indeed been intensified since we are pressed for time and there are many persons still missing.” Modern technology is being used and the CMP is working with a team of experts from the USA, who will be returning to Cyprus at the beginning of summer with new equipment that “hopefully will help us solve different issues”, Pantelides said.
“Right now, we have seven crews working at full speed” he added and said that there are 100 cases to be excavated and more than 200 areas, for which existing information is being evaluated.
The President of the Parliamentary Committee and MP of AKEL, Nicos Kettiros, said after the meeting that according to CMP data, research is ongoing for 770 Greek Cypriots and approximately 200 Turkish Cypriots who went missing in the Turkish-occupied and free areas of the Republic.
According to Kettiros, there are new data that, hopefully, will be announced soon. He also said that there was progress regarding 2,500 small bones being stored in the CMP lab waiting for identification and added that the issue would be discussed again in the Parliamentary Committee.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.
A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.