About 50% of samples from exhumed remains of Argentine war dead buried in the Falkland Islands have been analyzed and all of them have provided good quality DNA, ICRC Operational Coordinator for Humanitarian Project Laurent Corbaz, stated this week. He provided an update on the work undertaken in recent months at the Argentine cemetery in Darwin.
Corbaz explained that all graves which had remains that were unidentified have been opened and examined; human remains have been exhumed; bone samples were taken from each grave for DNA analysis; and the remains were reburied on the same day.
All samples were sent to laboratories; the main laboratory in Cordoba in Argentina, which also has all of the DNA samples collected from the families. Samples were also sent to labs in Preston, England and Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, for quality and cross-check analysis.
So far, approximately 50% of the samples have been analyzed and all of them have provided DNA of sufficient quantity and of good quality to make a DNA profile. And this profile can then be matched with the DNA profiles from the families.
“We are hopeful that the remaining 50% will also provide good DNA profiles, said Mr Corbaz.
He said that he was cautiously optimistic that we will get identification from the remains to match to many of the families. He explained that the next step will be to finalize the analysis, and to organize with the government of Argentina, the information to be given to the families. A final report to close the operation, and that should be ready at the end of the year.
The work finished a little early partly because of the mild weather, and also because the extremely valued support from many local people and institutions.
Mr Cobaz paid tribute to the work done by the original organizer of the cemetery, British officer, Colonel Cardozo, who came to the site for a few days and it proved to be extremely useful for all the team. All this made the exhumation really easier”.
Asked by the media about the photos that were published in Argentina and on Facebook – he responded that it, “was a small hiccup.” He believed it was an unfortunate incident but eventually it did not change drastically the way the ICRC team had had to implement the operation.
He went on to say that in today’s world it’s very difficult to control everything. The ICRC were not willing to build a wall around the cemetery, so he knew that something like that could happen.
“It happened. I’m not expecting any more incidents, in the sense that all the exhumations are done now. Fortunately none of the pictures showed human remains.
Unfortunate, but without too many consequences, I would say.”
The operation cost about 1 million Swiss Francs or about £800,000, shared almost equally between the UK and Argentina. (Penguin News)