Nepal has come a long way since the end of the decade-long conflict. But for many families, little has changed in these nine years as they continue to wait for answers about the fate and whereabouts of their missing loved ones.
To mark the 32nd International Day of the Disappeared, the ICRC Kathmandu delegation, along with Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) and Nepal Society of Families of disappeared and Missing Nepal (NEFAD), got together with the families of the missing on Friday, 4 September 2015.
The event saw the encouraging participation of almost 200 people from different walk of lives. Members of the families of missing persons present at the event were joined by high level officials from the recently-formed Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) along with representatives from Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Government officials, members of security forces and representatives of the civil society and human rights organizations, media and Red Cross volunteers also attended the function.
Secretary General of the NRCS Mr. Dev Ratna Dhakhwa delivered the opening remarks while Ram Kumar Bhandari of NEFAD highlighted the importance of marking the day. Bhandari said the day is not only an occasion to commemorate missing relatives by bringing together the families in similar grief, but is also an effort to consistently remind the authorities concerned to make public the whereabouts of the missing persons.
A small session was dedicated for the attending members of families of missing persons. Taking part in the interactive session, some of the members expressed concerns over the fate of their loved ones while the others drew attention to the economic, legal and administrative needs of the families.
A short film – “A Life on Hold: Addressing the needs of families of the missing” – was also screened. The ICRC film encompasses three stories of three people from different corners of the globe – Uganda, Mexico and Georgia – and was dubbed in Nepali exclusively for the families of missing.
Speaking at the closing of the event, head of the ICRC delegation in Kathmandu, Ms Dragana Kojic stressed on the need to tackle the multiple problems that the families of missing persons so often face. Expressing the hope that the recently-established Commission of Investigation on Disappeared Persons will invest every effort to give the families the long-awaited answers, as provided for in the International Humanitarian Law, and address other needs they express, Ms Kojic also insisted that such families cannot and should not wait any longer.