The fact that so many people go missing every year not only represents a humanitarian tragedy for families but can also have long lasting effects on efforts to rebuild trust and address grievances in societies. Further it undermines peace building efforts and development prospects. More and more complex environments such as protracted conflicts, a multitude of armed groups as well as large-scale migration lead to an increase in the number of missing persons.
Disappearances are a global phenomenon that has a devastating, long-lasting impact on families, communities and whole societies. When a loved one goes missing, uncertainty about her/his fate can lead to severe psychological trauma in her/his family. Moreover, in a number of countries, relatives of the missing face substantial legal and administrative hurdles to claim an inheritance, receive benefits or remarry.
Equally important, the issue of missing persons has also implications on peace building processes. The disappearance of community members often hampers reconciliation efforts for decades. In order to come to a closure with the past, a community or society needs to know the fate of their missing members.
Switzerland aims to strengthen preventive efforts so that people do not go missing in the first place, and is engaged to improve the search for the missing and to restore family links.