IFRC - Coping with Crisis, Newsletter No.1 2010
Enforced disappearances and psychosocial support
By Katharina Lauritsch
Two and a half years ago, in summer 2007, May's mum wanted to visit some relatives in a province 450 km South of Manila, Philippines. She only wanted to stay for a week, didn't take much luggage with her, said goodbye to her children and hitched a hike with some friends down South. That day was the last day May saw her mother. She and her sister searched for days, weeks, months, inquired in hospitals, police stations, army bases, asked friends and contacted victims organizations, without luck.
May's story is only one of many. Thousands of relatives of enforced disappeared persons in numerous countries all over the world have experienced the same. The phenomenon of enforced disappearances was and unfortunately still is practiced to silent, political, opponents all over the world. To those who relate the 1970's and Latin American military dictatorships with enforced disappearances, it comes as a surprise that the continent that reported the highest number of cases to the UN-working group on enforced and involuntary disappearances (UNWGEID) is Asia. Not only in the regions' countries, torn by internal difficulties like Nepal or Pakistan are people disappearing, but also in stable democracies like the Philippines, Thailand, India and Indonesia.