Note added 18 Apr 98: Publicly-accessible databases, used for to organized online missing-persons work, have proven difficult to maintain, almost impossibly so for volunteer, unfunded groups. Though every crisis brings a new effort (see the current updates on the Searching for People page), the use of the general internet to implement missing-persons work by grassroots groups has not lived up to expectations. Still, individuals looking for friends and relatives may find it useful to investigate the links on the Searching for People page.
The following is of historical interest only. In 1996 the internet was composed of networks running on incompatible protocols, and the SPE/PISMA project was designed to pass information between web databases and mailing lists. Today, with the web and TCP/IP ubiquitous, such interconnection is no longer necessary.
Obsolete links have been deactivated in the following
text. The PFS site, which continues to be added to, is included in the
aforementioned Searching for People page, as is the ICRC index page. The
ICRC database, which seems to have last been updated in June 1996, is still
(Apr 99) accessible from the ICRC index page. The missing persons records
in the Refugee Mail Services directory of the IGC Balkans gopher mostly
contains records copied from the the BBC site. The gopher, which was
last updated in 1996, is linked below in the event that it may be of some
Subject: Missing Persons Project (English)
Date: 01 Aug 1996 03:22:53
From: PeaceNet Balkans Desk <email@example.com>
The use of electronic networks by volunteer activists to supplement the work of professionals engaged in searching for people lost or displaced in the recent Balkan wars is an attractive idea. However, it has been unexpectedly difficult to set up such a project.
However, final arrangements have been completed, and I am now able to make
missing-person (MP) records available on ZaMirNet (ZTN). This posting outlines
the general state of missing-persons work, and of my own project.
I also hope that people in the .YU domain who are interested in reconciliation
and reconstruction will also subscribe to SPE- PISMA-L and participate in
Naturally, the mailing list is open to those who wish to locate their own relatives, as well as to those who are engaged in general MP work. Subscribers will be able to post requests to SPE-PISMA-L. At present the list is moderated, and I will review all posts as a way to keep some control over the format of the records. (Also, by way of the previously announced "ascii-input forms", it is still possible for people without direct web access to post requests to PFS.) All the Balkans-specific records on PFS will eventually be on SPE-PISMA-L, and requests coming into the mailing list will be uploaded to the web site as appropriate.
Volunteers cannot be expected to have the resources, financial and otherwise, of the large NGOs (NonGovernmental Organizations), and SPE-PISMA-L and the Slavonia conference should be viewed as experimental supplements to the programs of ICRC, IRC, and other NGOs. The ICRC database contains some 11,000 names, and at present I am not planning to copy any of these over to SPE-PISMA-L. If, after I complete the uploads of the BBC and PFS records (about 600 records altogether), it becomes clear that distributing MP records via email and ZTN is a useful project, I'll be glad to work with other peace activists and professional staff to improve and expand the service. -- Ed Agro (Boston)
Note: An archive of the SPE-PISMA-L MP postings will be placed in the IGC Balkans gopher.