“No mother will simply accept that she might not see her child ever again”

Last updated 25 April 2023

Mohamad is a volunteer in our Restoring Family Links team, and is originally from Syria. Here, he describes the situation for the many Syrian people searching for their missing relatives 


"A glimmer of hope and broken pieces of memories is all that are left for many families of disappeared persons waiting for their beloved ones to come back from the land of the unknown. 

When the time keeps passing, day after day, no mother will simply accept that she might not see her child ever again. Even if many years have passed, she will always believe that her child is alive somewhere: could be cold, could be hungry, and could be wounded, but most certainly, alive.


Holding onto hope that never runs out

This is the case for over a hundred thousand mothers in Syria, where the ghost of enforced disappearance is chasing Syrians all over the country and beyond, as if death and destruction are not enough. While whole families have disappeared, many others have lost contact with family members without knowing their fate, holding out onto hope that never runs out. 

A hope that could come with every knock on the door, with every call or even with every message. They could be waiting just for news, even if it's a rumour, even if it's a lie, at least it is something to hold on to.

The sad reality hits hard, as many Syrians have been killed and buried unidentified. Some have been found in mass graves where none of the victims were recognised. Their families might still be looking for them until this very moment, and their search may never come to an end. 


Separated families awaiting news

Rarely is there news for the families. The best it could get is that their beloved ones were seen alive somewhere in the past, and the worst is when they are gone. Many refuse to accept that their beloved ones are gone; they can't believe what they can't see, and they do not wish to see.

The suffering of those families has taken unimaginable shapes.

The tragedies around the disappeared never end, and it’s not only happening in Syria, as millions around the world go missing every year. It’s the same improbable pain for all of the families.

No family will give up hope; as long as they are alive, their beloved ones could be too. This is what makes looking for the missing and the disappeared so crucial.

Those families could use all the help that they can get, which is one of the reasons why I chose to join the International Family Tracing office in the British Red Cross earlier this year, where we try to ease the pain of those who have lost touch with their beloved ones and help them in their search all over the world."


Our work in reuniting families

The International Family Tracing team Mohamad volunteers for sits within our Restoring Family Links service. This is a Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement programme which helps to connect people with missing family members and reunite those separated. It is a free and confidential service delivered by volunteers, and is run from locations all over the country.

Around the world, more than 145,000 people have been reported as missing by their families to the Red Cross and Red Crescent network. This is unfortunately just a fraction of those who have disappeared.

To help families reconnect with missing loved ones, we also have Trace the Face, an online photo gallery of people looking for lost relatives. Since 2013, Trace the Face has helped to reunite hundreds of people. For more information on our Restoring Family Links work, go to our homepage, or read more about Trace the Face here.


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