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People Gone Missing

  • September 7th, 2007
  • Posted by Imogen Brennan

missing.jpgCommemoration of the millions of people missing in conflicts or disaster on 30 August saw the revival of stark recollections, in Europe including fresh memories of the tragedy in Yugoslavia.

The International Day of the Disappeared occurs at the end of August each year.

This year the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), René van der Linden, regretted the continuing suffering of the families of the disappeared – which may go back several decades, or just one or two.

“The unresolved issue of missing persons continues to wreck the lives of too many families caught up in the aftermath of recent European conflicts dating back to Cyprus in the 1970s,” he said.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), there are still more than 17 000 people missing from the wars in Yugoslavia just over one decade ago.

For the anniversary occasion this year the ICRC unveiled its report: “Missing Persons – A Hidden Tragedy”.

Prepared by an independent journalistic writer the report includes personal accounts and narratives from families of missing loved ones.

The ICRC Director of Operations, Pierre Krähenbühl, feels not enough is yet being done to help these families discover what happened to their relatives.

“It is imperative to deal with this tragedy and help the tens of thousands of families of missing persons discover what happened to their loved ones.

“Not knowing whether a loved one is dead or alive causes anxiety, anger and a deep sense of injustice, and makes it impossible for relatives to mourn and ultimately reach a sense of closure,” Mr Krähenbühl said while presenting the report at the organisation’s Geneva headquarters.

Usually there is no official acknowledgment of a missing person’s status, meaning families may be forced to live in poverty because they are not entitled to support and benefits that orphans and widows should receive.

“The International Day of the Disappeared reminds us of the support that families of the missing need in their quest for knowledge of the fate of their loved ones,” said Mr Van der Linden.


Council of Europe (Home), (29.8.07)

International Committee of the Red Cross, (1.9.07)
Picture: Looking for word of loved ones, ICRC