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Identifying more than 100,000 missing persons, Colombia tries

According to the Unit for the Search of Missing Persons (UBPD), there are more than 100,000 people missing after decades of conflict in Colombia. The Forensic Medicine Service is in charge of identifying human remains that arrive from the country's cemeteries to the institute, following strict international protocols.

The identification process includes comparing DNA samples with the more than 60,000 records of people searching for their relatives stored in "Banco de Perfiles Geneticos de Desaparecidos" (Bank of Genetic Profiles of the Disappeared).

Adding to the obstacle posed by the passage of time is one of the peculiarities of the Colombian conflict: the mutilation of victims by perpetrators to erase the traces of their crimes.

photo Ansa
We are in Colombia
According to the Unit for the Search of Missing Persons (UBPD), there are more than 100,000 people missing after decades of conflict in Colombia. The Forensic Medicine Service is in charge of identifying human remains that arrive from the country's cemeteries to the institute, following strict international protocols.
photo Ansa
A complicated process
The identification process includes comparing DNA samples with the more than 60,000 records of people searching for their relatives stored in "Banco de Perfiles Geneticos de Desaparecidos" (Bank of Genetic Profiles of the Disappeared).
photo Ansa
What are the problems
Adding to the obstacle posed by the passage of time is one of the peculiarities of the Colombian conflict. The mutilation of victims by perpetrators to erase the traces of their crimes.
photo Ansa
The procedure
An adult skeleton consists of 206 bones, 22 of which make up the skull. Parts of that structure are what reach the labs where forensics begins the task of assembling the puzzles. Identification includes anthropological and dental studies, among other analyses that seek to determine sex, age, height, and whether the first causes of death, such as whether a gunshot victim).
photo Ansa
A difficult comparison
Then, by taking DNA samples, the genetic profile is configured, which is compared with the more than 60,000 records of people searching for their relatives, kept in the Bank of Genetic Profiles of the Disappeared. In that same bank there are another 8,000 "unidentified" bodies that cannot be turned over due to lack of information and are still in storage.
photo UBPD
The words of the expert
Carlos Antonio Murillo is the deputy director of Forensic Services at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, which participates with other agencies in the identification of missing persons. "Both violence and the passage of time erase people's identities, which makes studies complex," he commented.
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30/05/2024
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