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Missing Persons Agency Adopts A new Sophisticated DNA Technology


On Tuesday October 24, the organization that helped with searching for missing people of 1990s Balkan wars opened a new global headquarter in Netherlands. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP, non-governmental) established in Sarajevo after the 1995 Srebrenica genocide will use sophisticated DNA technology to give families of missing people closure.

The head of ICMP DNA lab, Rene Huel mentioned that the technology is called a next-generation sequencing or massively parallel sequencing. This new technology donated to the agency by Qiagen, a Dutch holding company, will improve DNA extract even from decades old bones. The technology enhances DNA testing by increasing the number of genetic data from samples. The tech provides huge amount of genetic markers which can identify even distant relatives from samples, such as a third cousin, thereby enabling conclusive identification. The DNA samples are each cross-referenced against ICMP’s database which contains about 100,000 samples from relatives to check for a match.

Hard To Identify Missing Persons

The agency since its inception has been able to successfully identify 70 percent of the 40,000 missing people of Balkans conflicts. They have been able to identify 90 percent of the 8,000 missing people of Srebrenica genocide too. However, during the years of running, the organization has helped with finding missing people of world tragedies such as the November 2013 Hurricane Haiyan that struck Philippines.

According to the agency’s director general, Kathryne Bomberger, being able to gain global attention for the challenge of worldwide missing persons, is a huge step in progress. Every year, thousands of people go missing because of natural disaster such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, human trafficking, human right abuses, etc.

The organization does not only see closure as the goal, they also intend to protect the rights of survivors, promote their justice and enable reconciliation, and bring peace.