Countless people go missing in armed conflicts and other situations of violence across the world every year. In armed conflicts, civilians are often killed or imprisoned without the knowledge of their families and friends. Many a time, they are imprisoned in poor conditions and denied legal representatives. Some of them are able to return home, while many others are not so lucky. The families of the missing are plunged into an abyss of anguish and uncertainty over the fate of their relatives.
Today, on the International Day of the Disappeared, the ICRC is calling on the international community to show greater awareness of the tragedy of people who have gone missing and the plight of their families. “When people disappear, there are two kinds of victims: the individuals who have gone missing and their families, torn between despair and hope, living with uncertainty and pain, waiting for news, sometimes for decades,” explained Marianne Pecassou, who heads the activities carried out by the ICRC for missing persons and their families.
The plight of people who have disappeared – and the suffering of their families, all too often ignored – has been a constant concern of the ICRC. The organization is currently attempting to establish the fate and whereabouts of more than 52,000 people.