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WORLD | 20-08-2021 03:11

Malvinas humanitarian mission: Red Cross discovers five bodies in unmarked graves

Red Cross experts working to identify the remains of Argentine soldiers on the disputed Malvinas (Falkland) Islands said Thursday they discovered an additional body buried in a common grave.

Red Cross experts working to identify the remains of Argentine soldiers fallen in the South Atlantic conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the disputed Malvinas (Falkland) Islands said Thursday they discovered an additional body buried in a common grave.

This week, a mission led by the International Committee of the Red Cross began examining a grave at Darwin cemetery believed to have contained four soldiers. But as work got underway, the team discovered a fifth body in grave C.1.10.

"We are now sure that there are at least five people buried in this grave," Luis Fondebrider, the head of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), which is part of the mission team, told reporters Thursday during a virtual press conference. "Now begins the work of identification."

"We are still waiting for the collaboration of Argentine authorities and relatives of victims for seven [sets of] remains that have yet to be identified. The genetic profiles have already been prepared," said Fondebrider. 

Another excavation at the cemetery will take place late Friday, targeted on an area known as 'Teal Inlet.' Experts think they may find more remains there as well.

The remains that have already been found have been placed on a charter flight to Córdoba, where a genetics lab will spend several weeks studying them, in order to identify the remains.

Malvinas Secretary Daniel Filmus confirmed the discovery of five unidentified soldiers and thanked the Red Cross for the "enormous effort" it making to identify the dead.

Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, with Britain regaining control after a 10-week war in which 649 Argentines, 255 British troops and three islanders were killed.

Following the war, 237 Argentine soldiers were buried in 230 graves in the Darwin cemetery.

Four years ago, the Red Cross exhumed the remains of 122 Argentine soldiers from unmarked graves, of whom 115 were identified by DNA testing. They had previously been marked as "Soldier known only to God."

The Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as Las Islas Malvinas, are a self-governing British overseas territory that have been under sole British control since 1833. 

Argentina fiercely disputes the British sovereignty claim and has called on the UK to accept a UN resolution, pending since 1965, that calls for talks on sovereignty to be opened. 

 

– TIMES/AFP

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