The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) identified in 2021 the remains of 37 individuals, 29 missing persons (20 Greek Cypriots and 9 Turkish Cypriots) and 8 deceased. Eighteen individuals were exhumed during 79 excavations. A team from the University of Wisconsin is currently in Cyprus to support the work of the Committee, by conducting research using a ground penetrating radar and special cameras placed on drones, which spot possible underground anomalies.
“The team comprises four persons, two who have come to Cyprus and two who work remotely. They were invited to come in cooperation with the US embassy and the two individuals are in Cyprus since December 28 for nine days, they conduct research, while they have also trained our personnel,” the representative of the Greek Cypriot side in the Committee, Leonidas Pantelides told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
He noted that six sites in the government-controlled and the Turkish-occupied areas of the island were indicated to the experts who conducted their research there using a ground penetrating radar and special cameras on drones which take pictures and spot possible underground anomalies. Once these anomalies are spotted we will proceed with the excavations, he added.
Pantelides said that this is part of the effort to enhance the CMP research by using technological methods from which the Committee`s work can benefit.
Replying to questions, Pantelides expressed the belief that 2022 will be more fruitful as regards the results of the Committee`s work. “There are mass graves with dozens of people which have not been found yet, and we hope that we will find them at some point. We have some information and we are trying to fulfil the research to be able to conduct excavations,” he added.
Pantelides said that there are 300 sites to be excavated, while currently, findings that are 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 noted that the crews are working in Voni, Ayia where remains have been found, Spathariko, Templos, Lefkoniko (two crews) where the remains of three persons have been discovered and there may be more, and in Omorfita.
Asked about the information given to the Committee, he expressed satisfaction with the fact that people still give information to CMP.
As regards investigation related to records, Pantelides said that research in the UN peace keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) records is almost concluded, however, no particularly significant information has come up.
According to statistical data published on the CMP website by December 31, 2021 out of 2002 missing persons 1183 were exhumed and 1023 were identified.
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 has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning to their relatives the remains of missing persons.