Armenia, Karabakh say dealing with issue of soldiers missing after clashes; ICRC involved

As a result of the four-day war at the line of contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan along with perished and wounded servicemen there are also those who are missing, whose relatives are looking forward to hearing news about them.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, referring to the question of missing servicemen, told media that he pays tribute to the fallen soldiers and their relatives.

“One of our tasks is that we can resolve the issue of missing persons. You know that I’m the chairman of the commission which deals with the problems on missing servicemen, hostages, and prisoners, so we take relevant measures to solve those issues.

The main efforts are being carried out with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) movement, but I think given the fact that the Azerbaijani side has more losses. It will be easier for us in terms of their leadership to negotiate over exchanges. We will do our best to carry them out,” said Ohanyan.

Earlier, Patrick Vial, the Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia of the ICRC, announced that they are ready to assist and support people affected by the recent fighting and act as a neutral intermediary.

“All sides to the conflict have an obligation to respect the rules of international humanitarian law. As per these rules, the parties must ensure that civilian life and infrastructure is protected, said Vial.

Zara Amatuni, the press correspondent of the ICRC office in Armenia, said that they do not have any news at the moment, because they are waiting for steps by the authorities to be able to deal with problems connected with perished soldiers or those who are missing. The ICRC office in Armenia, besides the officially published data, does not have any other information.
“We are monitoring the situation, and only after getting approval by the sides can we act. We haven’t yet received confirmation from any of the parties,” said Amatuni.

David Babayan, Nagorno-Karabakh President’s spokesperson, told reporters that the Armenian side has no hostages, otherwise they would have contacted the ICRC. The Armenian side has dead bodies of Azerbaijani servicemen on its territory and is ready to give them to Azerbaijan. According to Babayan, Armenian side has started a process on finding missing persons, as well as on exchanging corpse.

“We certainly have corpses on our territory, the process will go, and we will see what we shall do. This is a common practice, and is not done by my own initiative. Such process goes on even in tough times of war. Now the process is still in the initial stage, and first of all the lists of missing people should be clarified,” said Babayan.

According to official data, at least 25 soldiers are missing as a result of hostilities lasted for a few days the line of contact.

The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization, the mission of which is to help victims of war and internal conflicts and to protect their lives and dignity. The ICRC has been working in Armenia since 1992 when hostilities first broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.