Lebanon’s Civil War Missing Leave Families Searching

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The study found that just over three quarters of the families surveyed continue to believe that their relative is still alive, or at least that their fate remains unknown. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Bassam Alkantar

Published Thursday, July 11, 2013

A new reportby the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) surveyed the needs of families of the thousands who went missing during Lebanon’s civil war, only to find that most of their needs have yet to be met.

“Missing in Lebanon: Report on the Needs of their Families” is the title of the ICRC’s most recent report on people in Lebanon who went missing during the country’s 15-year civil war, from 1975 to 1990.

The report, as the title suggests, focuses on the families of the missing in order to highlight their administrative, economic, social, and psychological needs, and is the product of detailed interviews with 324 families.

ICRC spokesperson Samar al-Qadi told Al-Akhbar that this report represents only part of a wider set of activities by the international organization on this issue. She said that the Red Cross and Lebanon’s Internal Security Services are close to launching a DNA bank to facilitate the identification of missing persons.

Despite three government committees that worked for a number of years to gather information and assist the families, very little progress has been made. Most of the families interviewed continue to insist on the need to know the fate of their relatives, even after the passage of 25 to 30 years since the disappearance.

The study found that just over three quarters of the families surveyed continue to believe that their relative is still alive, or at least that their fate remains unknown. Close to half of the families, in fact, reported that they continue to search for the missing.

Almost all the families have been emotionally scarred by the experience of being left to wonder about the fate of their loved ones for so many years: “The relationship with my mother changed a lot...I remember that whenever she cooked for us, we ate her tears with the food, because she never stopped crying,” a brother of a missing person told the interviewers.

The vast majority of families (78 percent) reported economic difficulties related to the disappearance of their relatives, many of whom were employed and the primary source of income for their families.

The families also suffer from legal complications such as gaining access to their missing relatives’ bank accounts, or work and insurance benefits – or even getting a divorce – because they cannot prove that their family member is in fact deceased. Over 80 of the families interviewed said that they are still not able to process their missing relative’s personal assets due to legal and administrative obstacles.

This is aside from the vast sums these families reported spending to search for their loved ones. Many of those interviewed, for example, said they spent substantial amounts paying for information that would lead them to their missing relative, or in some cases for possessions said to belong to them.

Notably, when asked what they believed would be a just response to their plight, 70 percent responded by saying that they simply wanted some information about the fate of the missing or where they might be at the present time.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

I do think that fate has remained unknown in these cases as Lebonans civil war resulted in several man missing cases as many reported has been reported after the lebonans war. Keep updating more of this kind of news.microneedle skin care system

absolutely harrowing.

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