The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has identified the remains of 37 individuals this past year - 2021. Of the individuals identified, 29 were classified as missing persons (20 Greek Cypriots and 9 Turkish Cypriots). Eighteen individuals were exhumed during 79 excavations.
A team from the University of Wisconsin is currently in Cyprus assisting in the Committee's research by using a ground-penetrating radar and special cameras placed on drones in order to spot possible underground anomalies.
This project, in cooperation with...the University of Wisconsin, is part of an effort to enhance the CMP's research capability by using technological methods that will only lead to benefits
"The team is comprised of four people, two who are in Cyprus and two who work remotely, who were invited to come in cooperation with the US embassy. Both individuals, who have been in Cyprus since December 28, will continue to conduct their research for another 9 days while simultaneously training our personnel," according to CMP Greek Cypriot representative Leonidas Pantelides.
Mr. Pantelides also noted that six sites in the government-controlled and the Turkish-occupied areas of the island were ascertained as possible excavation sites after experts used ground-penetrating radar and special cameras on drones spotted underground anomalies. "Once anomalies are spotted we will proceed with the excavations," he added.
"This project, in cooperation with the team from the University of Wisconsin, is part of an effort to enhance the CMP's research capability by using technological methods that will only lead to benefits," Mr. Pantelides noted.
Replying to questions, Pantelides expressed his belief that 2022 will be more productive in terms of the Committee`s work. "There are mass graves with dozens of people which have yet to be found, and we hope that that they will be located at some point. We have some information and we are trying to confirm the data in order to be able to proceed with excavations," he added.
Pantelides said that there are 300 sites waiting to be excavated. Currently, data related to 150-160 cases are being examined. "This does not mean that they are all related to missing persons," he noted.
He said that seven bicommunal crews of the Committee are working on both sides of the divide, taking all necessary measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Pantelides said that the crews are working in Voni, Ayia, Spathariko, Templos, Lefkoniko and Omorfita.
According to statistical data published on the CMP website, out of 2002 missing persons, 1183 were exhumed and 1023 were identified, as of December 31, 2021
Out of 1510 Greek Cypriot missing persons, 732 were identified and 778 are still missing. Out of 492 Turkish Cypriot missing persons, 291 were identified and 201 are still missing.
In 2020 25 missing persons were identified, in 2019 42, in 2018 71, in 2017 117, in 2016 115 and in 2015 61.
In 2020 4 persons were exhumed, in 2019 26, in 2018 10, in 2017 26, in 2016 80 and in 2015 161.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Numerous UN-backed talks to reunite the island have failed to yield results.
A Committee on Missing Persons was established upon the agreement between leaders of the two communities, with the aim of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains to their relatives.