Reference : V-P-UG-E-00387
Date : 20/08/2013
Country/Region : UGANDA
Caption : North Uganda, Palabeck Gem Subcounty, Kamama. Ator Cecilia (62) hoes a small plot of land near her home in the village. Her three sons were abducted in 1996 as they were digging in the family's field.
Photographer : MOORE, Phil
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description :
"Up to now, I don't know where they are" says Mrs. Cecilia, who is now left with only her daughters after her remaining son died. The event has left her scarred mentally, and disrupted her ability to perform daily activities, saying "my mind can never be peaceful."

Mrs. Cecilia says that she felt unable to talk about the event, and tried to block out the event from her mind. "It is useless to think of them which is why I avoid it" she says. For years, the families of the missing have had no help to process their loss, but earlier this year the ICRC began running a holistic programme to help people cope with this ambiguous loss, unsure if their family members were even still alive. "The project helped me to change my life, emotionally," she says. "In the groups I was strengthened, I learnt a lot of coping mechanisms, we shared things."

The day after this picture was taken, the community held a remembrance celebration, bringing together over 500 members of the community to help bring about unification of the affected families with the wider community. "Tomorrow," Mrs. Cecilia says when interviewed prior to the event, "the main activity is not only in memory of those who are lost, but to pray that they come
back. I hope that at least one of them comes back."

Between 1986 and 2006, up to an estimated 75,000 people were abducted in northern Uganda. In 2013, the fate of several thousands remains unknown; the ICRC estimates that there may be more than 12,000 people still missing. Their families have lived for years with this uncertainty, unable to honour their death, and hanging on to the hope that one day, their family members may return. The emotional distress this has caused has led to many feeling isolated, unable to talk about their situation with other members of the community and suffering discrimination from those who believe they are involved with the abductors.

The ICRC launched a holistic programme in Palabek Gem Subcounty identifying, and subsequently bringing together, families of the missing. The ICRC formed support groups for these families and trained "accompaniers" to facilitate discussion on learning how to cope with their grief and finding a way to move forward. This culminated in a remembrance ceremony for the missing in the village of Kamama on August 21, 2013, bringing together over 500 members of the community, to help bring affected families closer to the wider community.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 4256x2832
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour