UN chief calls for new mechanism to find 100,000 missing Syrians

UN chief calls for new mechanism to find 100,000 missing Syrians
Family groups have been tirelessly campaigning to find their loved ones missing in Syria for years.
2 min read
29 March, 2023
Guterres hopes to unite efforts currently spread across Syrian grassroots and global NGOs [Getty images]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has renewed his call for member states to establish an independent international mechanism to find tens of thousands of Syrians missing after 12 years of conflict.

Guterres urged governments across the world to act during his comments to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday evening. 

"People in every part of of the country and across all divides have loved ones who are missing, including family members who were forcibly disappeared, abducted, tortured and arbitrarily detained," Guterres told the assembly. 

Current efforts to establish the fate and whereabouts of missing Syrians are split across different international NGOs and local Syrian organisations. 

The new international mechanism would unite these efforts in a system "centred on victims and survivors", according to Guterres. 

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The UN chief echoed sustained calls from Syrian family groups for the establishment of an international body to look into the cases of the tens of thousands of people missing in Syria.

The Truth and Justice Charter Group published an open letter on Monday calling for the creation of a "victim-centred international body" to search for Syria's forcibly disappeared, along with locating and identifying those who have died in detention. 

Families have been campaigning tirelessly for years to uncover the truth of what happened to the tens of thousands of people who were detained in 2011 and 2012 for taking part in pro-democracy protests or for suspected criticism of Bashar Al-Assad's regime. 

Since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011, more than 100,000 people have been forcibly disappeared, the vast majority believed detained by the Assad regime, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.