Kuwait says remains of 19 citizens missing since 1990 Iraqi invasion identified

Those abducted during the war were sent to jails in Iraq for refusing to co-operate

Mourners carry the coffins of nineteen Kuwaiti prisoners of war whose remains were recently found in a mass grave in Iraq and identified through DNA tests, during a funeral procession at a cemetery in Kuwait City on November 21. Photo: AFP

Kuwait has informed the UN Security Council that it identified the remains of 19 citizens who were held as prisoners of war or went missing during the 1990 invasion by Iraq.

Thirty-one years ago, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded his Arab Gulf neighbour and was pushed out by a US-led coalition. The war left Iraq in a devastated economic and social state that it has yet to recover from.

Kuwait says about 605 people, mostly its citizens, disappeared from the country during the seven-month occupation and ensuing war.

Over the years, Iraqi authorities have found some of their remains in mass graves across the country.

In March 2020, Kuwait successfully sought UN backing to ask Iraq to take more action to find the graves of the missing, and Wednesday's letter was designed to update the Security Council on progress.

"On November 18 2021, the remains of 19 Kuwaiti martyrs and missing persons were identified according to tests by Kuwait's General Administration of Criminal Evidence," Kuwait's news agency reported.

Kuwaitis captured during the war were sent to jails in Iraq for refusing to co-operate with occupying forces, reports said.

Kuwait's Permanent Representative to the UN, Mansour Al Otaibi, wrote the letter to the UN Security Council explaining that DNA tests were used to confirm the identity of the remains after they were handed back to Kuwait by the Iraqi authorities.

The Kuwaiti prisoners of war "had been arrested during the Iraqi invasion and their remains were included in the batch received in November 2020 as well as January, March and July of 2021," said the letter.

"Extensive efforts were exerted in order to identify the remains in Iraq and an Iraqi technical team was allowed to check the sites under the authorities of the International Committee of the Red Cross," it said.

A funeral was held in mid November in Kuwait for those who had been identified.

Diplomatic ties between the two neighbours were severed after the invasion, but restored after Hussein’s removal from power in 2003.

Since the war ended, Iraq has paid at least $50 billion of the $52bn the UN Compensation Commission ordered in reparations to Kuwait.

Updated: December 2nd 2021, 10:08 AM