A conference exploring ambiguous loss – a phenomenon that affects the relatives of people who go missing, often in conflict – will see international experts gather in Tbilisi on 27-28 May 2015 in an initiative from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The regional conference, titled "Accompanying missing persons' families through ambiguous loss," will explore both the theory and practical application of the concept and will take place at Betsy's Hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The conference aims to raise awareness of the concept of ambiguous loss among academics and shore up support for organizations and individuals working to support the families of those who have gone missing during conflict.
Participants in the conference will include Pauline Boss, an academic who is widely recognized for her trailblazing research on this phenomenon, along with other experts from the USA and Australia, Margaret Bennett and Jill Stockwell.
Ms Boss' groundbreaking research on ambiguous loss has become the key reference for professionals working to understand and deal with the adverse effects of the disappearance of an individual on other family members. Her research found that ambiguous loss is the most devastating of all types of loss precisely because it remains undefined and unclear. Families spend years looking for answers and the stress inflicted by the state of ambiguity affects all aspects of their lives – as an individual, at the level of the family unit and within the community.
Since the early 1990s, the ICRC has played an active role in supporting the families of missing persons in the region and advocating for their right to know the fate of their relatives. Over the years, its work has gradually evolved to include social, economic, legal and psychological support for families using the theory of ambiguous loss as a reference model. These activities are now well integrated into the work of local organizations all around the Caucasus, the Balkans and in Central Asia with the support of the ICRC.
Feedback from families of missing people who have received this type of support showed that they experienced a measurable improvement in their situation and were highly appreciative of the effort put in by the ICRC and its partners in helping them come to terms with their loss and get on with their lives.
For further information, please contact:
Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, tel: + 995 5 99 55 88 18
Jenny Tobias, ICRC Geneva, tel: + 41 79 5 36 92 48