International Day of the Disappeared: helping families in their quest to find out what happened

Geneva: The families of countless people all over the world who went missing in connection with armed conflict and other emergencies are enduring painful uncertainty as they remain without news of their loved ones, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today in the run-up to the International Day of the Disappeared which is being observed tomorrow.

While the authorities concerned have an obligation under international humanitarian law to do everything in their power to determine what happened to those who went missing, a greater commitment needs to be made to help the families of the missing overcome the difficulties confronting them in their daily lives, the International organisation’s regional Delegation for the GCC Countries in Kuwait observed in a statement.

“The scars that war leaves on relatives of missing persons and their communities are deep,” said Marianne Pecassou, who heads the activities carried out by the ICRC for the families of missing persons. “People who don’t know whether those who have vanished are alive or dead are leading lives of uncertainty. In some cases, they have been waiting for decades, and it often happens that they suffer from emotional and social isolation. Sometimes, they’re even shunned as bearers of bad luck, and women can be stigmatized because they are left without the protection of a male family member.” “No matter how much time has passed, the authorities must to do everything in their power to throw light on what happened to those who went missing and to provide the families with any information they obtain,” said Ms Pecassou. “Meanwhile, it is urgent to give the families the support they need to deal with everyday challenges and live decently.