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Missing Persons Day: Families with missing persons speak out

Author: Stephen Chot | Published: Friday, October 1, 2021

Sophie Marsac, Deputy Protection Coordinator for Protection of Family Links, ICRC and John Lobor, Secretary General, South Sudan Red Cross Society talking about the International Day of the Disappeared in the studio - credit | Lou Nelson | Eye Radio | Sept 30, 2021

Some families of missing persons have appealed to the government and humanitarian partners to support them.

South Sudan on Thursday commemorated the International Day of the Disappeared.

The day was supposed to be commemorated on 30th August but was postponed to Thursday September 30.

The International Day of the Disappeared (IDoD) is commemorated on August 30 of each year in honor of those who are missing because of armed conflict and violence, forced disappearances, natural disasters and migration.

The day also seeks to raise awareness of the situation of the families of the missing who wait for years in agony with little or no news on the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.

They are often being unable to live their normal lives, struggling to heal from tremendous trauma with little or no support available.

In South Sudan, the day was marked in honor of thousands of South Sudanese citizens, who went missing because of conflicts and violence, forced disappearances, natural disasters, and migration.

One of the people who spoke of their missing persons is a 52-year old man whose wife and two children disappeared in 2008.

Gordon Bithok Bim says he separated with his family in 2008 when he was taken to new Kush for military training.

The ex-soldier stated that since then he never saw his children again.

“I lost track of my family after I was taken to the military training camp. I found that the Red Cross can do something. I tried through ICRC but never materialized,” Gordon said.

“The government cannot solve your problem, they only tell you to go and fight. There is no solution to our suffering. If you are disabled, no one cares about you.”

“After four months, the government will give you a one month salary. Can you really live or survive on the salary of one month that comes after four months without?”

For her part, Mary Jamba Benjamin says her son left her with two of his children 8 years ago and never return.

She added that looking after the children has become a burden on her.

“My son left two of his children under my care. I have been thinking a lot. Sometimes I tried other means but with no success,” Mary said.

“I don’t get help. My heart refused to settle down, thinking that my son is still alive, and hoping one day God will bring him home.”

ICRC reported that there are over 5,000 cases of disappearances and missing persons in South Sudan.

South Sudan joined the rest of the world and commemorated the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

The event was organized by the International Committee for Red Cross.

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