Supporting and Strengthening Work with Relatives of Missing Persons - 2–3 July 2019, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Grupo de Acción Comunitaria (GAC), a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) in the field of psychosocial support, co-organized an expert meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 2 and 3 July 2019.

Over two days, more than 80 participants, including representatives from family associations, States and organizations and experts from 30 different countries, shared their perspectives and discussed differences and commonalities between their situations. They also considered the specific vulnerabilities of individuals and the evolving needs of families as time passes.

This event provided a unique and unprecedented occasion for the families of missing persons from all over the world, whose loved ones went missing in different circumstances – armed conflict, other situations of violence, migration and catastrophic events – to connect with each other. For many relatives of missing persons who are struggling daily in their own countries to continue the search for their loved ones, this workshop provided an opportunity to break out of their isolation, engage in intense discussions with families from different continents and listen to different experiences and perspectives. Many participants expressed the view that coming together made them feel stronger, and they appreciated being given the opportunity to join forces.

The key findings of the meeting were formulated and consolidated into the conclusions set out in this report. This is the first step in the process to draft and disseminate concrete technical recommendations on these topics in close consultation with the wider community of practice.

It is our hope that this joint effort will lead towards greater and more effective collaboration among all those involved in clarifying the fate and whereabouts of missing persons.

Caroline Douilliez-Sabouba
Head of Missing Persons Project
International Committee of the Red Cross

Pau Pérez
Grupo de Acción Comunitaria (GAC)