In Latin America and in the Balkans, helping families to find out what happened to loved ones

Helping families to find out what happened to loved ones - © ICRC/MONTANARI, Agnès

On the International Day of the Disappeared, gatherings and other events are taking place in several places throughout the world to help keep alive the memory of those who are still missing. These events also help the family members and friends of missing persons to cope with the uncertainty they live with everyday.

This humanitarian problem is massive and global. It affects communities wherever armed conflict, violence and migration occurs or has occured.

In Latin America, over 100,000 people are missing due to forced disappearances, armed conflict, other situations of violence and migration.

In the Western Balkans, thousands of people who went missing during hostilities in the region are still unnacounted for. Out of close to 35,000 persons missing in Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo, over one third of families still do not know what happened to their loved ones.

National authorities must to do everything in their power to determine what happened to those who went missing, but a greater commitment - in Latin America, in the Balkans and elsewhere - needs to be made to help the families of the missing overcome the difficulties confronting them in their daily lives.

Ute Hofmeister and Lina Milner coordinate our Missing-related programs in Latin America and the Western Balkans. They explain the scope of the problem, its impact on the families and friends of the missing and the work carried out to support the families of missing persons and the various mechanisms set up by authorities in these regions.