documenta.jpg
Photograph: documenta.hr

Non-governmental organisations from a few countries in the area of the former Yugoslavia on Wednesday presented findings of their efforts to collect evidence and documents about human losses in the wars in the early 1990s, and Croatia's Documenta NGO stated that it had registered 15,336 war casualties in Croatia, while the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre reported that 2,087 citizens of Serbia and Montenegro had been killed or gone missing in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Documenta's representative Vesna Terselic said during the presentation of those findings in Zagreb that facts about the fate of every killed or detained person were a valuable basis for confidence-building process.

This NGO started collecting evidence about war victims in 2009, and sources available to this NGO helped it to register 15,336 victims.

However, this is not the final figure, said Slaven Raskovic of Documenta, explaining that the job of registering victims with the assistance of different sources is not over yet.

Estimations made by researchers and experts about casualties among Croatian citizens go around 18,000, Raskovic said, adding that Documenta's statistics are lower but the NGO is continuing to collect evidence.

This civil society association has collected over 26,00 documents pertaining to war victims and they include court and army registers, death certificates, autopsy findings, newspaper articles, etc.

When it comes to human losses among citizens of Serbia and Montenegro in the wars in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1,833 members of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), that later changed its name to the Army of Yugoslavia (VJ), and of the Serbian police were killed, plus 102 civilians and 152 citizens of those two countries whose status has not been established.

Of those 1,833 casualties, 1,111 lost their lives during the aggression against Croatia and 724 during the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina, while 104 were killed on the territory of Serbia, 26 were killed in Slovenia, 19 in Montenegro, and the exact place of death has not yet been established for the remaining 103 war casualties among those Serbian and Montenegrin citizens.

Regarding the death of young soldiers, born in 1970 or later, who were recruited by the JNA in 1990/1991, 609 lost their lives in those wars and of them 440 were citizens of Serbia and Montenegro, 80 were citizens of Croatia, 53 were citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 21 were persons whose permanent residence was in Macedonia and six were from Slovenia, and the citizenship of 9 killed young recruits has not yet been established.

NGO activists warn that a majority of young recruits were deployed in battlefields in eastern Croatia without any previous notice.

Natasa Kandic of the Humanitarian Law Centre said that it was very difficult to collect evidence and statistics about Serb and Montenegrin paramilitaries and volunteers who had gone to fight for Serb insurgents in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to evidence collected by the Kosovo Humanitarian Law Centre, from 1998 to the end of 2000, 13,549 people were killed or went missing during the war in Kosovo, Bekim Blakaj said.

Dzenana Karup Drusko of Bosnia and Herzegovina's NGO "Transition Justice, Responsibility and Remembrance" presented documents about 250 wartime detention camps and makeshift prisons.

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