ICRC report on FMP today

KATHMANDU: A new report published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), entitled Families of missing persons (FMP) in Nepal: A study of their needs, brings fresh insight into the plight of the families of persons who went missing in Nepal in connection with armed conflict between 1996 and 2006.

"First they have to return our husbands – if they are unable to, then they have to give us the facts and the truth of how they killed them, when and how and who killed them," said a woman quoted in the study. "The guilty should be punished for their misdeeds. They should arrange something for our family and our children – especially education – and the government should pay us compensation."

The study is based on interviews and focus group discussions held in 10 districts accounting for 43% of the missing persons in Nepal. It underlines the difficulties faced, by women and children especially, when a loved one vanishes without explanation. "Ninety per cent of those who went missing during the conflict were men, more than 80% of whom left behind a wife and

children," said Mary Werntz, head of the ICRC delegation in Nepal. "These families have been shattered by moral, social, economic and legal uncertainties. The State may never be able to bring back those who have gone missing, but it must help those left behind to move forward in their lives. In order to achieve lasting peace, it is essential that families know what happened to their missing relatives."

On 5 May, Padma Lal Biswakarma, president of the international relations and human rights committee of the legislative parliament, will publicly launch the report at an event that will include a public discussion attended by government officials, families of missing persons and representatives of civil society.

The ICRC has been working with families of missing persons since it began its activities in Nepal in 1998. In particular, it has defended their rights and run programmes aimed at alleviating the difficulties they face. In August 2008, together with the Nepal Red Cross Society, the ICRC published the names of 1,227 people who were reported missing during the

conflict in an attempt to gain public recognition for the families, and to encourage the authorities to actively search for answers and convey them to the families. Following the publication of these names, more families stepped forward to report missing relatives. Today the ICRC meets regularly with 1,311 families of missing persons towards whom the Nepalese government

still has legal and humanitarian obligations.