International Day of the Disappeared is celebrated annually on August 30 and serves an important purpose – to draw attention to the plight of those who find themselves in places of deprivation of liberty, in unsuitable conditions for life and without contact with their relatives (legal representatives). These people need help!
International Day of the Disappeared was established by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Families of the Disappeared (FEDEFAM), a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) organized in 1981 in Costa Rica. It brought together local and regional activists who spoke out against violence against people in Latin America, as the practice of abducting people and forcibly imprisoning them was still widespread (and unfortunately persists today). On August 30, 2007, hundreds of people from the Philippines, mostly activists and relatives of the missing – abducted or killed by Philippine security forces – took to the streets in an anti-government protest.
Among the various organizations advocating for the missing, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has some special privileges. In some cases, the ICRC is the only organization with access to prisoners, providing contact and control over their treatment. Affected families are often unable to obtain information about their fate except from the ICRC, giving them a chance to learn of the fate of their loved ones.
This is an essential part of the ICRC’s mandate, which also extends to the missing victims of natural disasters, military operations and other tragic events. The ICRC looks for detainees, those stranded abroad, those hospitalized, those who have died, using the resources of 189 Red Cross societies worldwide. They advocate with governments and other groups for the right of families to know about the fate of their loved ones, and they also provide assistance to these families, who often need psychological, social, legal and financial support.
How to take part
You can celebrate International Day of the Disappeared:
- donating funds to organizations looking for the missing;
- spreading information about them on social networks;
- showing support to the families of the disappeared.
When is International Day of the Disappeared celebrated in 2023?
International Day of the Disappeared is observed on August 30 each year.