Conflicts & War

10 years of pain, waiting for families of disappeared people in Syria

By Manolo G. Moreno

Beirut, Mar 13 (efe-epa).- On 15 September 2013, Omama’s father took her to look for universities and dropped her off with the promise of picking her up the next day. She never saw him again.

He was one of the tens of thousands of Syrian civilians who have been disappeared during the brutal civil war.

“After a decade of conflict, tens of thousands of civilians arbitrarily detained in Syria remain forcibly disappeared, while thousands more have been subject to torture, sexual violence or death in detention,” a United Nations commission said earlier this month.

With massive scale detentions carried out by the regime since the protests that broke out in March 2011, the Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad and other warring parties have “deliberately” prolonged the suffering of their families, as they do not provide information about their whereabouts.

Omama Abdel Hady was only 16 when the uprising broke out in Syria. She lived in a small town near Damascus.

At the time there was an overarching fear that anyone could be a regime informant, so Omama limited her activities to helping displaced people who arrived in her town.

“My siblings took part in the demonstrations in the suburbs of Daraya and Qeswa, and, sometimes, they organized rallies,” the 26-year-old told Efe from Turkey, where she has lived since 2019.

Omama works as a local coordinator for Families for Freedom, an organization that advocates for the release of detained Syrians.

Her two brothers and her sister were forced to leave Syria after one of her siblings was arrested and held in custody for 75 days during the early stages of the uprising.

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