The consequences of the Abkhaz region conflict

Map of Georgia Map of Georgia © Photo by PeterHermesFurian on iStock

 In Focus by Sergio Gomez; Editor: Xavier Atkins

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been able to identify the remains of 14 people killed within the Abkhaz conflict,  bringing closure to those families who had been waiting nearly two decades to know the final resting place of their loved ones. The ICRC reported that amongst the deceased was one Abkhaz individual and thirteen Georgian nationals. 

The ICRC began excavating conflict sites in Sukhumi, Ochamchire, and Gagra, all of which are now located in the partially recognized state of Abkhazia. The excavations began in 2017 and were completed by late 2019. After more than two years of laboratory work and DNA analysis, the families of these 14 individuals were identified and contacted. Due to the current protocol, the remains will be returned to their loved ones in the near future. 

These efforts provide answers and relief to those affected by the 1992-93 armed conflict and are vital in order to ensure lasting peace in the south caucasus. The tremendous uncertainty of not knowing the whereabouts of these victims creates turmoil and unending greif. Thankfully, the ICRC has made it one of their primary goals to ensure the speed and efficacy of these excavations increase, as 90% of reported missing victims remain unaccounted for. 

The ICRC believes that it is fundamental to work alongside the Georgians and Abkhzans in order to identify the maximum number of victims. Since the search began 11 years ago, 583 victims have been recovered and 206 of them have been identified. From the 206 identified, a further 192 remains have been handed over to their families. Unfortunately, ICRC reports that a total of 2,355 victims including civilians and military personnel are still unaccounted for. A brave effort indeed, but the ICRC still has plenty of work to do before their efforts are over.


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