Blood samples are being collected today (Wednesday) in Des Moines from people who may have lost loved ones in the war in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mary Ellen Barber, who works in the international services division in the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross, says dozens of people who moved to Iowa from that region over the past decade are coming forward.
Barber says it’s just a couple of drops of blood that will be used as material for D-N-A samples to match with D-N-A taken from bones of remains that are found mostly in mass graves in the former Yugoslavia. That war ran from 1991 to ’95 and there are some 20-thousand people who are still missing as a result.
Barber says the people who are offering blood samples in Iowa are expressing mixed feelings — of sadness and hope. Since the war has been over for ten years, she says many people are resigned that they may never find their loved ones alive and those hopes are dimming, but she says if the remains can be identified, that provides a sense of closure for those who remain. Barber says the blood samples were taken Tuesday and all day today (Wednesday), through 10 o’clock tonight.
Many central Iowans are from the former Yugoslavia, there’s also a community in Waterloo and several other enclaves scattered across the state who have come here to live since the mid-1990s. For those who can’t make it to Des Moines to provide a blood sample, Barber suggests they contact the International Commission on Missing Persons. Iowa is among twelve states where the I-C-M-P is taking the samples over a two-week period. The next stop is Chicago’s Purple Hotel on December 2nd and 3rd. For more information, surf to “www.ic-mp.org”.