In Lebanon, addressing question of missing persons remains a humanitarian priority for ICRC
In the wake of the devastating explosion which ripped through Beirut, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Lebanon has been actively engaged with the Lebanese Red Cross and authorities to support the process of restoring family links, search for missing persons, management of the dead and forensic identification.
People in Lebanon continue to experience the heavy impact that the explosion has left behind. Some are still searching for their missing loved ones. It is of vital importance to the ICRC to stand with and accompany the families in their struggle towards clarifying the fate of their loved ones and to help them cope with the suffering that ensues.
The impact of disappearances on individuals, families, and communities is one of the most damaging and long-lasting humanitarian consequences of conflict, other situations of violence, migration, and natural and manmade disasters.
Since 1967, the ICRC in Lebanon has striven – through its tracing work, its visits to people deprived of their liberty and its aid for displaced people – to prevent disappearance. However, since the conflicts in Lebanon began in 1975, thousands of people have gone missing. To date, thousands of families remain without answers on the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.
“The missing persons are not just numbers. They have families and loved ones who are still waiting,” says Wadad Halawani, president of the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon.
In November 2018, the passing of Law 105 on the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared represented a milestone for the families. The Lebanese authorities confirmed this important step in June 2020 with the establishment of the National Commission for the Missing and Forcibly Disappeared.
The ICRC welcomes the nomination of the commissioners but at the same time would like to encourage the authorities to do everything in its power to ensure the effective operationalization, independence, and non-discriminatory nature of the national commission. Political will, financial and technical resources, and constant involvement of the families of the missing are key for the effective implementation of its mandate.
“We have stood and will continue to stand next to the families in their search for their loved ones to alleviate their suffering and help them cope with the uncertainty of the unknown fates of their missing relatives,” says Christophe Martin, the head of the ICRC delegation in Lebanon. “Families have the right to know and acknowledgment of their pain is the first step towards their healing”.