Countless people around the world are haunted by the disappearance of a loved one. Those who vanished are neither alive nor dead. Their mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, family and friends are left without closure – neither able to mourn their loss nor rejoice in the safe return of their loved ones.
Today, we mark the 31st International Day of the Disappeared and remember those individuals whose locations and fates remain unknown. Too often, lawyers, investigative journalists, and human rights activists fall victim to kidnapping for simply speaking the truth. That is unacceptable.
In Syria, thousands have disappeared at the hands of the Assad government. Violent extremist groups such as ISIL are ruthlessly targeting and disappearing innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq. In Nigeria, extremists kidnapped the Chibok girls from their school in the middle of the night. Such disappearances bring suffering to the victims and heartbreak to their families. They also create toxic atmospheres and breed terror within communities.
The State Department commends those men and women who work tirelessly to bring home missing individuals. The advancement of DNA sampling and analysis has helped reunite families who have suffered from unjust disappearances. Just last year the State Department helped to reunite a woman in Latin America who was abducted from her family during a massacre in 1982. She was only 18 months old at the time.
The United States and our international partners remain vigilant in our pursuit of those missing around the globe. They are missing, but never left behind. They are gone, but not lost. They are taken, but not forgotten.