Armenia: trees as living symbols of memory and hope
Families recently gathered in Gyumri, northern Shirak, to plant trees as a reminder of relatives missing since the 1988-1994 Nagorny Karabakh conflict. The event also helped raise awareness of the problems that these families are facing.
Hasmik Pilosyan’s husband went missing in Lachin, in 1991. “He was a senior lieutenant,” she explains. “I’ve had no news of him since he disappeared. But I still hope that one day he’ll come back and look after the tree I’m planting today. In the meantime, I’ll come here regularly to take care of it."
This area, with its 11 fir trees, will soon become a park of remembrance where the families of missing persons can meet on occasions such as the National Day of Missing Persons on June 29 and the International Day of the Disappeared on August 31.
The tree-planting was organized by the Shirak regional branch of the Armenian Red Cross Society with support from the ICRC, which is also helping people discover what has happened to their missing relatives and deal with the legal, social and economic problems they face.
The ICRC supports the families of missing persons via micro-economic projects, such as the distribution of livestock and house renovations. The organization is also helping the authorities introduce legislation on missing persons that will give their families better legal protection. Working with local partners, the ICRC is providing psychosocial support to the families, helping them cope with the trauma of their loss.