30. August 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Auch Boat-people: „Internatioal Day of the Disappeared“ · Kategorien: Mittelmeerroute

International Day of the Disappeared

How did it come to this?
International Day of the Disappeared: the tragedies of migration to Europe

On 2 June 2011 a small boat overloaded with asylum seekers sank some 300km away from the Libyan coast. Two hundred and seventy people drowned. Only two bodies were found.

On 6 February 2012 the bodies of three Afghans fell from under a truck on a Greek road. They died of asphyxia. They were only 20 years old and were hoping for a better life when they boarded a boat to Italy.

On 6 September 2012, 61 people, including 28 children and 3 babies, died when the small boat they had boarded in Turkey sank. Forty-six people survived. All the victims were fleeing the conflict that has been devastating their country, Syria, for more than two years.

The list is a lengthy one. On 25 October 2012, when the last known incident documented by United Against Racism occurred, there had been 17,306 „documented refugee deaths” since 1993. This only includes documented deaths, but most of the lives lost on route to the EU unfortunately go unidentified.
Silent tragedies

Regular news of tragedies in the Mediterranean and other EU borders is unacceptable, as is the silence that surrounds these deaths and the disappearance of the«forgotten migrants». Accepting this state of play would lead to a slow „dehumanisation” of people who, in search of a safe place of asylum, are faced with impassable borders and therefore have to brave more and more dangerous and unreliable routes.

In the course of their Tracing and Restoring Family Links activities European Red Cross National Societies hear many stories of those who „made it”, those whose boat did not sink, those who, thanks to a survival instinct maybe, luck certainly, stayed alive and have been able to reach safety. They are no doubt physically safe now but their spirit wonders between the present and the moment when their loved one: father, wife, child, let go of their hand and was left in the care of another smuggler or had to take the next boat…

Red Cross staff and volunteers are but witnesses to these silent tragedies and to the pain and suffering caused by the disappearance of loved ones. Pain and suffering that can be found on both sides of the borders. For example, across the Mediterranean when Tunisian mothers in search of their sons, are taking a stand and openly addressing a message to the Mayor of Lampedusa.

On this day, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also calling for a better and broader response to the needs of the families of persons missing and emphasising their right to know what happened to missing relatives.

The stories of these lives shattered on route to a better future raise one simple question: How did it come to this?

On the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, we would like to pay a humble tribute not only to those 17,306 individuals who died on their way to Europe, but to all the others who could not be found or identified, so that they may never disappear from our memory.

A new publication to better accompany families of missing persons

In response to the many needs of those family members who remain uncertain about the fate of their loved ones, the ICRC has today released a new publication entitled Accompanying the Families of Missing Persons: A Practical Handbook which is intended to help those within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and outside it who strive to assist the families of the missing. The 154-page manual is dedicated to „all those who have to endure the anguish caused by the disappearance of a loved one“.

This new publication complements the familylinks.icrc.org website launched last October by the ICRC to help people find missing relatives and which provides information on Red Cross and Red Crescent services that help people restore contact with family members in countries around the world.

Read more about National Red Cross activities on migration in the EU

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