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Missing persons in Nepal: the right to know

29-08-2011 Report

The 1996-2006 conflict in Nepal brought tragedy for many families: over a thousand families still do not know what happened to a relative. International humanitarian law requires authorities to account for people who go missing, and to give families all the information they have on their fate and whereabouts. The ICRC and the Nepal Red Cross Society maintain contact with the families of missing persons across Nepal and encourage the former parties to the conflict to clarify the fate of those who remain unaccounted for.

The 1996-2006 conflict in Nepal brought tragedy for many families: thousands of people were killed during the conflict, and over a thousand families still do not know what happened to a relative. International humanitarian law (IHL) requires authorities to take all feasible measures to account for people who go missing, and to give families all the information they have on their fate and whereabouts. In other words, IHL requires the authorities to do all they can to provide families with answers that will end the agony of uncertainty, so that they can begin mourning the loss of a beloved husband, caring father, or loving son or daughter.

Since 1999, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), supported by the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), has maintained contact with the families of missing persons across Nepal and has been encouraging the former parties to the conflict to clarify the fate of those who remain unaccounted for. Over the years, the ICRC has received 3819 reports from families regarding the disappearance of a relative in relation to the conflict. While the fate and whereabouts of hundreds of people has been established, 1383 people are still missing, nearly five years after the end of the conflict. Their families are anxious to know what happened; they need a formal answer so they can get on with their lives. Until then, they are torn between despair and hope: despair at the loss of a relative and hope that he or she may reappear, against all odds.

For three consecutive years (2007, 2008 and 2009) the ICRC and the NRCS published lists of missing persons in Nepal. These lists contained 812, 1227 and 1348 names respectively. In 2010, the ICRC published the updated list of 1369 names on its website, in English and Nepali (www.familylinks.icrc.org).

Since 2007, 42 families have received an answer and have been able to move on with their lives; meanwhile many more have come forward and asked the Red Cross to help them obtain information.

The present document contains an updated list of 1383 missing persons, taken from ICRC records. This is not a comprehensive list of everyone who went missing during the conflict; it only includes people whose families have approached the NRCS or the ICRC looking for information about a missing relative. Each name represents the missing person, his or her family, the suffering of that family, the statements the families provided to the ICRC, and the ICRC’s repeated representations to the authorities.


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