A new generation of Cypriots uncovers the missing

Bones are shown in the laboratory of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP). Identifying human remains is a puzzle for anthropologists and geneticists.

Taking the first steps

Each missing person case begins with an investigation into the circumstances of the disappearance.

Murat Soysal talks to a 95-year old witness at her family farm.
Xenophon Kallis kneels at the edge of a recently-discovered mass grave.

Finding the remains

Clockwise: A map of secret burial sites across the island; Marking the remains at a burial site; Remains are often found in disused water wells.
Recording the remains at a burial site.
Mehmet at an excavation site.
Left: Archaeologist Maria Solomou prepares a numbered ID card prior to photographing a newly discovered grave. Right: Archaeologist Andria Avgoust, centre, works at a new gravesite.

Putting the pieces together

Photis Andronicou (left) and Emine Çetinsel (right) examine remains.
Anthropologist Theodora Eleftheriou pieces together individual bones to establish the age, sex and height of a missing person.

Identifying the missing

Left: Anthropologists record what can be seen on the bones. Right: Bone samples are cut and sent abroad to a specialist laboratory to extract the deceased person’s DNA.
Istenç Engin looks at recorded remains.
Bone samples are sorted.

Laying bodies and mind to rest

After formal identification, the remains can be handed over to the missing person’s family for burial, with CMP psychologists providing emotional and practical support.

Clockwise from top: Psychologist Lisa Zamba comforts the bereaved; Anthropologist Emine Çetinsel at the grave of her grandfather, whose remains she helped identify; Suna Özikiz holds up her own family photo. She is still looking for her father.
At the funeral for a young man killed decades earlier, the family grieves.

A race against time

A new generation of Cypriots determined to heal the wounds left open by their fathers and grandfathers are carrying out extraordinary work through their efforts at CMP.

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