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Nepal: Missing relatives nine years later

Nepal has come a long way since the end of the decade-long conflict, but nine years on many people are still trying to find out what happened to their loved ones. In partnership with the Nepal Red Cross Society, the ICRC has been supporting the families of those who disappeared.

As many as 1,343 people are still missing in Nepal. One way the ICRC and the NRCS help keep their memory alive, and support their families, is by organizing events.

On 4 September 2015, some 2,000 people marked the 32nd International Day of the Disappeared in over 40 districts across Nepal.

Participants at the event in Kathmandu

©ICRC, Binod Kafle

In Kathmandu the event was attended by the ICRC delegation there, the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) and the National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Nepal (NEFAD), together with officials from the new Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Representatives from the government, security forces, human rights organizations, civil society generally and the media, as well as Red Cross volunteers, also attended.

The ceremony was opened by the secretary general of the Nepal Red Cross Society, Mr Dev Ratna Dhakhwa.

Mr Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, Secretary General of the NRCS addressing the audience
©ICRC, Binod Kafle

Next, Mr Ram Kumar Bhandari of NEFAD said that, on this important day, families in anguish both commemorated their missing relatives and urged the authorities to make their whereabouts public.

The families themselves voiced their concern over the fate of their loved ones and drew attention to their own legal, administrative and financial needs.

In Kathmandu, a relative of a missing person shares her thoughts
©ICRC, Binod Kafle

The ICRC film “A Life on Hold: Addressing the needs of families of the missing” was screened. It tells the stories of three people from different parts of the world – Uganda, Mexico and Georgia – and was dubbed in Nepali especially for these families.

Participants watching “A Life on Hold”
©ICRC, Binod Kafle

In her closing speech, Ms Dragana Kojic, head of the ICRC delegation in Kathmandu, stressed the need to tackle the multiple problems faced by the families. She said she hoped the new Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons would make every effort to give them answers and relieve their anguish, as they could not and should not wait any longer.

To mark the event, the ICRC, together with the NRCS and NEFAD, also produced postcards with a message of solidarity and a symbolic illustration showing families asking where their missing loved ones are. The cards were delivered to the families of the 1,343 missing people.

Since 2010 the ICRC and the NRCS have been giving the grieving families psychological, sociocultural, financial, legal and administrative support through the Hateymalo programme, and they recently published a report highlighting the pressing issues facing the families.

"Missing Persons in Nepal: Updated list 2015" (available in English and Nepali) is the latest version of a list of names published by the ICRC and the NRCS since 2007.

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