Brazil: International Day of the Disappeared 2017: The never-ending wait

29 August 2017

What is it like to live with the disappearance of a loved one? How does one learn to cope with the pain and the misery? When does it become acceptable to let their memory fade away?

The ICRC brings to you stories of Brazilian families who are desperately waiting for the return of their missing members. In the following videos, the families talk about their sorrows and also the hope that keeps them looking for their loved ones.




The family members of the people who go missing live with uncertainty on a daily basis. The unexplainable absence of a loved one leads to intense suffering.

The devastated family members experience physical, emotional and, sometimes, psychosocial breakdown. Add to this considerable legal, administrative and economic difficulties and the effect is chaotic to say the least.

The full scale of the problem is unknown and chronically unacknowledged, but the ICRC estimates that every year hundreds of thousands of people go unaccounted for.

State authorities bear the primary responsibility for preventing disappearances clarifying the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, and adopting a holistic response towards the needs of family members. Responding adequately to these needs demands a continuous and sustained commitment from communities, local actors and authorities. Families feel comforted when others in their community, and in society at large, are aware of their loss and their hardship.

The ICRC conducts humanitarian work regarding missing people and their family members in various parts of the world as it believes that all people, without distinction, have the right to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones and to have an adequate response to the humanitarian needs resulting from their disappearance.

Learn more about the exhibition A falta que você faz (freely translated as The void you've left), where we have put together more than 40 portraits that chronicle the history, challenges and distressing uncertainties of 12 families enduring the experience of having a missing loved ones.