MH17 repatriation mission ended

The MH17 repatriation mission, in its current form, has been concluded. OnSaturday, a Hercules transport aircraft of the Dutch air force will bring thelast coffins with human remains to the Netherlands. This was announced thisafternoon in The Hague by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the mission leader.

Aalbersberg emphasised the physically and mentally challenging work performedby the staff of the Ministry of Defence and the police in recent months. Heexpressed his gratitude to them in that regard, as well as his appreciation forthe assistance rendered by the local authorities, residents, and emergencyservices. "Thanks to the SES emergency service, the team was able to make goodprogress at the sites thought to still contain human remains and personalbelongings. For this, we are very grateful to them."

Much work done

The team of 24 people got a lot of work done in the past two weeks. The team still recovered human remains and personal belongings even in areas that were difficult to access, e.g. due to mines. A total of 120 cubic metres of wreckage were also recovered.

Final inspection

The team performed a final inspection at the large 'burned site' yesterday. They also visited Petropavlivka to collect personal belongings and pieces of wreckage from the inhabitants. Aalbersberg: "That concludes the work of this mission. All items recovered, people, and equipment are currently travelling from Donetsk to Kharkiv. We cannot guarantee that everything has been found, but we can offer the assurance that everything that could be done has been done."

Maintain local contacts

As there is a possibility that more items will be found, the team will maintain the local infrastructure and expertise for the time being. Arrangements have been made with the mayors of the villages surrounding the disaster area, the local population, and SES. There are a number of designated locations where inhabitants can drop off items found, for instance. There is also a contact person at the embassy in Kiev. This to ensure that anything that is found from now on will still reach the Netherlands.

Our immediate priority now is to bring the human remains to the Netherlands. On Saturday, 7 coffins will arrive at the Eindhoven Airbase in a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The team will also return to the Netherlands. It is not yet known when the personal belongings and wreckage will arrive.