War in Ukraine: at least 16000,<> soldiers missing

A day of mourning took place on Saturday, December 30 in several cities in Ukraine after the vast series of Russian strikes with "a record number of missiles", which have caused, according to the Ukrainian authorities, at least 30 dead and more than 160 injured. Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro and Odessa mourn their dead. Along the front line, fighting continues. Many of the soldiers killed in action are now missing. The Ukrainian Interior Minister puts forward the figure of 16,000 people whom the Ukrainian authorities are unable to identify.

People visit the graves of Ukrainian soldiers on the occasion of Ukrainian Armed Forces Day, at the Lychakiv cemetery in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on December 6, 2023 AFP - YURIY DYACHYSHYN

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These men and women are included in the "Register of Missing Persons in Special Circumstances", a register managed by the Ministry of the Interior. Quoted by Ukrainian media, Ihor Klymenko stressed that his ministry was facing a major problem: how to compare the DNA of the bodies of soldiers found on the battlefield with those of their relatives who went to live abroad?

Last month, Ukrainian authorities appealed to their nationals in Poland and Germany, two countries hosting large numbers of refugees. Over the course of a week, the International Commission on Missing Persons, in collaboration with the Ukrainian police, conducted a campaign to collect DNA samples from Ukrainian families. 165 samples have been recovered. In addition to DNA data, family members also provided information about their missing relatives, the circumstances of their disappearance or where they were last seen.

At the beginning of January, a larger campaign will be launched, with DNA collection points organized in several countries hosting Ukrainian refugees: Germany and Poland, but also the Czech Republic and Spain.

Read alsoWar in Ukraine: families looking for those missing from the conflict

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  • Ukraine
  • Defense