Nearly 100,000 have disappeared and almost 70,000 continue to be missing in Colombia, leaving families behind without any information on the fate of their loved ones.
The international committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in August that 97,000 people have been reported missing since the beginning of the armed conflict 50 years ago, and of those the locations of 68,000 still remain unknown. Additionally some cases of disappearances are not reported; therefore they are missing from the statistic.
Armed conflict, natural disasters, and quarrels are some of the reasons why thousands of families are searching for their lost ones, the international organization Red Cross reported.
According to a OCHA report released on Friday, 25,000 of the disappearances are directly caused by the armed conflict. Since the biggest guerrilla group FARC and the Colombian government began peace talks in 2012 more than 10,000 people have gone missing, and the location of almost 6,000 of these people remain unknown.
It can be difficult to find information about the whereabouts of the beloved missing persons as the information is sometimes lost, voluntarily left-out, being retained illegally or deliberately concealed, the Red Cross said.
Marianne Pecassou, the head of the Red Cross program that supports victims of disappearance and their families, points out that not only the disappeared suffer in these circumstances.
“When a person disappears, there are two types of victims: the disappeared, and their family who are torn apart between hope and despair, living in uncertainty and pain, waiting for news, sometimes for decades.”
“When a person disappears, there are two types of victims: the disappeared, and their family who are torn apart between hope and despair, living in uncertainty and pain, waiting for news, sometimes for decades,” said Pecassou.
For each victim that disappears an average of eight family members are recognized as indirect victims and they are object of attention and repair, OCHA states.
According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, a total of 71,064 people have disappeared. Comparing the number of disappearances with the amount of people living in the state the central states of Meta and Guaviare, in addition to the Putumayo state bordering Ecuador and Peru, are some of the worst places for disappearances.
Though Bogota (16,379 disappearances), northwestern Antioquia (10,245) and Valle de Cauca (6,748) at the Pacific coast are the states with the highest numbers of missing persons, also containing the three biggest cities in Colombia Bogota, Medellin and Cali.
FACT SHEET: Disappearances in Colombia (stats / map)
To mitigate the humanitarian crisis Red Cross Colombia and the international Red Cross have established programs to help the people who are left behind, Red Cross states.
Restoring Family Contacts and Psychosocial Support are programs designed to aid family members locating their lost ones and provide psychological aid to families who are suffering emotional.
To raise public awareness of the disappeared and their families Red Cross marked the International Day of the Disappeared August 30.
- Mapa general personas reportadas como desaparecidas (national institute of legal medicine and forensic sciences)
- Llamado a la reflexión por las víctimas de la Desaparición (Red Cross Colombia)
- Desaparición en Colombia: la campaña “Llena el vacío” (ICRC)
- Tendencias Humanitarias – Colombia (OCHA report)