Main Navigation


Remembering the disappeared


Held every year, International Day of the Disappeared (August 30) highlights the fate of those missing through enforced disappearance, conflicts, natural disasters and migration.

Monday August 31, 2015

International Day of the Disappeared highlights the fate of those missing through enforced disappearance, conflicts, natural disasters and migration.

"Everyone has the right to know the fate of their loved ones, and across the globe countless families live in hope that an answer will one day come," says Megan Goodwin, National Program Coordinator of Australian Red Cross' International Tracing Service.   

As part of its work reconnecting those separated by war, conflict and disaster, Australian Red Cross is still helping families search for answers about the fate of loved ones missing since the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. An estimated 140,000 people were killed in conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s. Today some 12,700 - brothers, fathers and sons, sisters, mothers and daughters - are still unaccounted for.  

Red Cross still has over 70 open cases relating to the former Yugoslavia on its books in Australia. "These are some of the most difficult cases we work on, because of the time it takes to get information," says Goodwin.  

"Not knowing what happened to your loved ones is an almost intolerable burden - the distress, grief and uncertainty can be devastating. Many of the Yugoslavian cases we handle result in the identification of remains and not in finding someone alive, but for many people having any kind of answer is better than the uncertainty."

"In the search for answers in those Yugoslavian cases, Australian Red Cross has helped 200 families provide vital information to forensic experts in Europe to assist in formally identifying peoples' remains, and we have helped 95 families to clarify the fate of their loved ones."  

Australian Red Cross has been helping reconnect families and clarify the fate of missing relatives separated by war, conflict and disaster for 100 years.

To mark this centenary, a special exhibition telling the stories of some of the families we have helped is being held. Visit redcross.org.au/tracingcentenary to find out more.

Share