08/01/2016, 10.59
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International Red Cross: The families of the missing deserve support

by Melani Manel Perera

The organization carried out a survey of 395 families. It compiled a list of 16 thousand disappeared, but the numbers are much higher. The report contains a number of suggestions to give economic and psychological support for the relatives of the victims.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The International Red Cross has carried out a survey among the families of persons who disappeared during the thirty years of civil war andare in great need of comfort and support.

The result of the survey is contained in a recently published report in which the organization makes an appeal to the government to give serious consideration to the question of missing persons. The report also contains a series of proposals to help families of the victims.

The Red Cross survey was conducted between October 2014 and November 2015. In this period, the staff met 395 families of persons who are missing, were seized or victims of the clash between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE).

The Red Cross has drawn up a list of missing 16 thousand, although the numbers are much higher. Recently, the government in Colombo admitted 65 thousand people have gone missing without trace, and in late May the President Maithripala Sirisena presented the new Office for Missing Persons (OMP).

Although the war ended definitively in May 2009, an official list of missing persons, including civilians and Tamil rebels, has never been released. The army leaders have always denied the existence of official data on the Tamil who surrendered and then disappeared into thin air, but at the end of June the publication of a list had seemed imminent. So far there has been no development in this regard. According to the Red Cross report, the victims' families face legal, administrative and economic difficulties every day, in addition to the deep sorrow of having having lost their relatives.

This is why government, non-governmental organizations and international institutions should work together to put an end to their suffering. Among the recommendations in the report, the organization encourages the creation of an independent mechanism to investigate the truth about what happened. It intends to compile a list of missing persons at a national level; to search for bodies and identify them; conduct a thorough investigation and to coordinate all those working in the field.

As for the families, the Red Cross asks that they be given accurate information about the victims, receive economic aid and brought together through the creation of a day of remembrance.

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