During the Balkan conflicts, which lasted from 1991 to 2001, more than 140,000 people were killed in the former Yugoslavia. More than 1 million people were displaced during this ethnic clensing; and until recently, approximately 28,00 out of 40,000 of the missing and unaccounted for have been identified by the ICMP. The Prince of Wales met with the families of the missing last week.
The royal was inspired to support these families when he visited Pristina, Kosovo last March. Whilst there, he learned of the challenges these families face in locating justice for their loved ones. The newly-established governments refuse to take responsibility for locating the missing or seeking justice for their murders.
Those family members who met with Prince Charles became emotional when the Royal pledged his personal support to them. Breaking with royal protocol, they embraced him.
The Prince told the Express: “In the months since I have thought a great deal about those stories and have been determined to do something to support you, the families, in your exceptional work to promote reconciliation and justice.
“When we do not know what has happened to our loved ones there is no closure to that grief – no remedy for our despair.
“Loss always brings grief but I know how easily loss can also bring despair at the pointless cruelty and destruction we witness in our world and at our own inability to understand it.
“When we do not know what has happened to our loved ones there is no closure to that grief – no remedy for our despair.”
The Prince stated that those of today owed it to future generations; to learn of the fate of the 12,000 still missing. He added: “Only reconciliation offers the assurance that our children and grandchildren will not suffer the same agonies as our own generation has endured.
“It is my profound hope that your countries will be changed by your quest for truth through cooperation and that by working together with the International Commission on Missing Persons you will offer a model of reconciliation that will inspire others around the world.
“That work requires tremendous courage, the courage I believe we must all try to summon from the depth of our souls, however great the pain.”
He praised the families for their “courage, dignity and determination”. “Accept my hospitality today as a demonstration of my personal support for your constant and tireless efforts.”
More than 140,000 people were killed in the ten-year war, and thousands are missing.
On Wednesday, the 2nd in line to the throne heard harrowing stories from relatives of the missing. One of which was from 55-year-old Kosovo Albian Sevdije Frangu. She spoke of how her daughter, father, and husband have been missing since 1999.
She told the Express: “Sixty people were taken including my daughter who was 19-years-old. There were elderly people including one as old as 103.
“They were massacred – some were even buried alive. There were children of nine and 12 who witnessed everything.”
57-year-old Serbian Olgica Bozanic, told how she was driven from Kosovo. She has yet to see her two brothers.
“These were honest people, ordinary citizens.” Her brothers remains have been located in a mass grave, all thanks to the hard work done by the ICMP.
She continued: “It wasn’t just the deaths that was difficult to accept – it was the fact that there were no bodies. All I wanted to do was kiss my brothers’ heads but they were gone.”