Cyprus Missing Persons Fund Boosted

The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has been given another 2.6 million euros ($3.51 million) to keep carrying out its work trying to find the lost bodies of people killed during the unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey, which still occupies the northern third of the divided island.

The money was okayed by an agreement between the European Commission and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Cypriot media reported.

CMP, a a tripartite bi-communal investigatory committee set up to investigate 1,468 cases of Greek Cypriot and Greek missing persons and 502 cases of Turkish Cypriot missing persons, has already received a total of 12.1 million euros ($16.34 million) in European funding.

The committee has identified nearly 500 individuals since 2006 and returned their remains to their families, the Cyprus Mail said.

According to Cypriot media, the latest information from the CMP, made available in mid-December, suggests that there are currently 271 burial sites on the excavation list, nine of which allegedly contain more than 20 remains each. The CMP is also said to have 200 sets of human remains awaiting identification.

A total of 140 remains of missing persons were identified in 2013 through the work of the CMP. A Greek Cypriot member of the CMP Theofilos Theofilou told the Famagusta Gazette that the missing persons issue is the most tragic aspect of the Cyprus problem, which has affected thousands of families.

Theofilou was speaking after a meeting he held with the President of the European Party (EUROKO) Demetris Syllouris with whom he discussed the humanitarian work of the CMP.

Theofilou said that compared with other years, in 2013 the number of remains identified was higher but that the work locating human remains and exhumations was  not very satisfactory, he said, pointing out that CMP work needs to be intensified.