On the International Day of the Disappeared, the International Committee of the Red Cross supports the call of families of the missing persons for understanding and sympathy

Kyiv (ICRC) – It has been more than five years since the armed conflict in Donbas erupted, and for the families of people who are believed to be missing, each day is like a lifetime. It is difficult to describe this permanent state of waiting and hoping that the families and friends of the persons who went missing experience every day.

The ICRC has asked them to choose the theme of this year’s commemoration in Kyiv. The reply came in: “Do not hesitate, sympathize.” By choosing these words, the families are inviting the society to stand by them and recognize their plight.

Recognition is about understanding. Therefore, a young Ukrainian singer Oleksandra Kariagina, who goes by the stage name Shy, and members of the Theatre Studio Splash, join forces with the families of the missing in a symbolic performance projecting the struggle of those waiting for the news about their beloved ones. The performance will be taking place on Sofiyska square on 30 August at 12:00 hours.

“This year we want to recognize that pain which we so often do not see and do not hear. But we also want to recognize the hope that each family nourishes, and their dedication to finding news about their missing dear ones. We want to recognize their daily struggle, which is ours to share, as well as their resilience, which is ours to respect and support,” says Florence Gillette, Head of the ICRC Delegation in Ukraine.

Over 700 missing persons currently registered with the ICRC and the Ukrainian Red Cross are unaccounted for. The majority are men, and around half of the overall number of those reported missing are civilians. Whether people disappear from the battlefield, or during other war related circumstances, the effects on their families, their communities and society at large remain difficult. The families not only endure emotional turmoil, but also struggle to stay afloat financially and face administrative and legal challenges.

An appropriate legal framework was adopted by the Ukrainian Rada last year in the form of the Law on the Legal Status of Missing Persons of Ukraine. It represents one of the most important steps forward towards the effective resolution of the missing issue:

“The Law on the Missing is a good step in the right direction to recognize the status of the families of missing persons and give them access to some forms of assistance. We stress the importance of the implementation of the Law, so that concrete responses to the needs of the families are found,” says the ICRC Head of Delegation.

Since 2016, the ICRC has been running programs aimed at helping families of the missing address their psychosocial and material needs. Our teams are organizing social gatherings and home visits as well as providing economic support to the families. In addition, we work with political, legal and forensic authorities to help develop expertise as well as technical capacities that would contribute to ascertaining the fate of the missing persons.

Do you have a relative missing as a result of the conflict in Ukraine? Call our toll-free number: 0800-300-155

For further information, please contact:

Jana Bauerova or Oleksandr Vlasenko, ICRC Kyiv +380 67 509 4206; +380 50 348 47 43

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