Day of the Disappeared: 26 years on, over 10,000 people still missing

29 September 2017
Day of the Disappeared: 26 years on, over 10,000 people still missing
Several people in Serbia are still looking for their missing loved ones.

On 30 August, a photo exhibition to mark the International Day of the Disappeared was organized in the City Assembly of Belgrade. The deeply moving exhibition featured personal belongings of people who have gone missing in conflicts on the territory of former Yugoslavia.

Jointly put together by the ICRC and the Coordination of the Serbian Association of Families of the Missing Persons, the exhibition's aim was to draw attention to the pain and suffering that families of missing people endure.

Behind every missing person is the tremendous sadness and dismay of families, who, after years of conflict, are still searching for their loved ones. Twenty-six years after the first conflict in former Yugoslavia, as many as 10,416 people are still listed as missing. What is particularly worrying is the significant slowdown in the process of resolving cases of missing people, which has almost halted in recent years.


The biggest obstacle in obtaining answers is the lack of information that would lead to the discovery of new graves.

Even as uncertainty shrouds the fate of missing people, their families face great hurdles each day. In most cases, the people who went missing were their family's breadwinners, leaving those behind entangled in a web of financial, legal, administrative and emotional problems.

International humanitarian law mandates that families have the right to learn the truth about the fate of the missing relatives, and the former parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything to give them the answers. As years go by, this issue must gather some urgency and the cases need to be solved as soon as possible.

The ICRC's Belgrade delegation supports efforts to trace missing people through national and international archives, provides legal and forensic expertise and helps their families deal with the uncertainty of their situation.