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Lebanon: ICRC brings families of the missing together for the first time

In Saida, Lebanon, the ICRC brings families of the missing together for the first time for a discussion on its new program, "accompaniment of families of missing persons", which seeks to assess the varied needs of families whose relatives' fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

On 5 December 2014, the people who went missing during the Lebanese civil war were remembered, their pictures surrounding the stage of the Municipality Hall of Saida city, the main capital of south Lebanon. The ICRC invited their families to an information session aimed at introducing its new program, which seeks to respond to the participants’ varied needs.

In 2011, the ICRC conducted a survey among 324 families of missing persons across the country to assess their needs. Although families’ first priority was to learn the fate of their loved ones, they also raised other concerns, primarily linked to health, administrative, legal, and psychological needs.

“When a person goes missing in a family, it has severe and long term consequences for all remaining relatives, even many years after the event”, said ICRC delegate Fabien Bourdier. “It is those needs that our new program called ‘accompaniment of families of missing persons’ seeks to address. It aims at creating networks amongst families and support groups with various institutions and organizations who can provide help.”

Representatives of different organizations working in the district of Saida were also invited to present their activities at the gathering and offered to include the families in their on-going psycho-social, medical, and legal-administrative support programs.

Each organization had a small stand, where they discussed available services with the families.

The families of the missing often find themselves isolated. Therefore, the opportunity to share their difficulties and sorrows is an important dimension of the project.

“I respect and appreciate a lot the efforts carried out by the ICRC to shed light on the fate and whereabouts of the missing and propose to us this new program” said one of the family members in response to the initiative.

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