Around the world, hundreds of thousands of people are currently missing—separated from their loved ones because of armed conflict, violence, natural disaster or migrations. In more than 60 countries, the ICRC works to help missing people and their families. August 30 is the International Day of the Disappeared. Here is how the ICRC is making a difference:*
- 1,000 children were reunited with their families
- 3,650 families with missing loved ones were provided with psychological and psychosocial support in 21 countries
- 479,000 family members were able to re-establish contact through free phone calls
- 25,700 detainees were visited and monitored individually
- Delivered humanitarian forensic services in 53 countries around the world
- 19 States were supported in the development of national laws and measures related to missing persons and their families
*Statistics are the most recently available, from 2015
ICRC action on missing persons worldwide
In over 70 countries and territories around the world, the ICRC has files open on people who have disappeared. We call them "open tracing cases," but behind every "case" is a family desperate to know what has happened. And they have a right to know, enshrined in international humanitarian law. See the Interactive Map.
In Columbia, there has been conflict between armed groups and the government since the 1960s. Many young men and women have joined, or been forcibly recruited by armed groups. More than 100,000 have vanished since the conflict started. Many of them are still missing. And their families do not know if they are alive or dead. Read the graphic novel: Enrique's shadow.
Eighteen months into the current conflict in Yemen, hundreds of families are looking for their loved ones who have gone missing. With uncertainty prevailing, the families of those whose bodies have yet to be recovered find themselves unable to move on. Deep psychological wounds are formed. The ICRC works in Yemen to help families locate the bodies of the missing, enabling them to mourn their losses and have some form of closure. Watch the video: In Yemen, searching for closure off the coast.
Every person's disappearance means a lifetime struggle for the families who love them. Years after years, families of the missing persons remain in the dark, not knowing whether their relative is dead, alive or sick. There are thousands stories of families who don't give up hope that they will find out what happened to their loved ones. 18 years after the armed conflict in Kosovo, the ICRC continues to search for the people who disappeared and tries to alleviate the family's suffering. Read the story: Kosovo: Families of missing persons are still looking for answers.
Fahima's sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece died when the boat taking them from Turkey to Lesvos capsized. Her nephew's body is still missing, leaving Fahima and her remaining family unable to close this painful chapter of their lives. Read the full story: Living between two realities in Afghanistan.