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Azerbaijan: families of missing to share memories on the International Day of the Disappeared

24-08-2009 News Release 09/168

Baku (ICRC) – Families of people missing in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will gather in five Azerbaijani cities, Shamkir, Ganja, Aghjabadi, Barda and Baku from 25 to 30 August to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared (30 August).

Fifteen years have passed since the signature of the ceasefire agreement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict but the fate of over 4,500 missing persons is still not clarified. The families of those who went missing are left with their pain and sorrow. " Day after day, these families direct their whole lives towards one aim: to get answers to what happened to their beloved ones, " says Jelena Milosevic Lepotic, the tracing delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baku. " What gives them strength after all these years of waiting and hoping is the memories of their dear ones. "  

To commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August, all families of missing persons throughout Azerbaijan have been encouraged by the ICRC, local organizations and the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan to come together to share memories they cherish about their missing family members.

" We invited them to bring an object that the missing person used or liked very much, which had a special meaning to him or her, and to share anecdotes related to it, " Mrs Milosevic Lepotic says. " The idea is to show that every missing person is an individual with his own life, job, family, leisure and tastes – that he played an instrument or participated in sports, and was a member of the community. "

Pictures of the items presented in the five cities and stories of the persons they belong to will later be published in a booklet by the ICRC. During the event, families of missing people will also have the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of representatives of local non-governmental organizations providing legal, social an d psychological assistance.

Since 1992, the ICRC has been supporting the right of the families of the missing to know the fate of their relatives. It has been supporting the efforts of the Azerbaijani authorities to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law. The ICRC is continuing its nationwide endeavour to collect and centralize data on missing persons in connection with the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.

  For further information, please contact:
  Gulnaz Guliyeva, ICRC Baku, tel: + 99 412 440 62 22
  Claire Kaplun, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 244 64 26
  ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 34 43