EU and IOM Support Mobile DNA Labs To Speed Up Identification of Civilian Victims of Full-Scale Russian Invasion
The European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mission in Ukraine, have provided testing equipment for mobile DNA laboratories to help the National Police of Ukraine more rapidly identify civilians killed during the full-scale war. The assistance, delivered within the project “EU Support to Strengthening Integrated Border Management in Ukraine”, funded by the European Union, includes cartridges with reagents and applicators with a total worth of 120,000 euros.
The new equipment enables forensic teams to identify bodies in a much shorter time — 94 minutes, compared to a regular testing procedure lasting from several days to months. With the possibility to test up to five different DNA samples and automatically match the results, it can be also used to investigate conflict-related sexual violence crimes, as well as for the prevention of human trafficking.
Mobile DNA units are widely used in the areas which have been returned under the control of the Ukrainian Government. “The National Police is investigating the instances of mass killings and torture of Ukrainian citizens, as well as missile attacks and artillery strikes that result in large numbers of killed people. Since the start of the full-scale military aggression, our investigators have initiated over 66,000 criminal proceedings in regard to crimes committed by the military of the Russian Federation in Ukraine,” said Ivan Vyhivskyi, the Acting Head of the National Police of Ukraine.
As of March 2023, 3,000 killed people were identified with support of DNA labs used by the police.
“Handing over forensic kits inspires no joy. But it inspires confidence that Russian atrocities in Ukraine will be brought to justice, thanks to the hard work of Ukrainian law enforcement and support by the EU and the international community,” noted Ambassador Matti Maasikas, Head of EU Delegation to Ukraine.
“The full-scale war that entered the second year has put the capacities of law enforcement agencies in Ukraine under strain, as they deal with the violations of human rights of enormous magnitude. By supporting the National Police of Ukraine, IOM contributes to improving human security in Ukraine and helps to bring solace to the families who do not know the fate of their loved ones”, said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine.
Since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine confirmed over 8,000 civilians being killed. However, the actual toll of the war is considered to be higher as many areas remain inaccessible for proper investigation.