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On the International Day of the Disappeared, over 100,000 Syrians are missing.

On the International Day of the Disappeared, over 100,000 Syrians are missing. “Those forcibly disappeared are deprived of a place among the living, and also deprived of a place among the dead,” quoted from the book “Healing the Dead to Influence the Living: Exhumation and Reburial in Zimbabwe”. Below, you will find a link to a TV episode in which Professor Salahuddin Luka from the Hope Revival Organization participated with #Syria TV to discuss the #psychosocial impacts of enforced disappearance on the occasion of the International Day of this issue. Additionally, you will find more information related to the topic for further learning and benefit. About #enforced_disappearance: “Estimates suggest that around 1.2 million Syrian citizens have experienced #detention at some point since March 2011, and during this period, approximately 111,907 people have become #forcibly_disappeared. By simple calculation, if we multiply the number of disappeared, roughly 112 thousand forcibly disappeared, by the average Syrian family size of 5 members, the result is at least 600 thousand Syrians affected. Enforced disappearance occurs when individuals are arrested, detained, or abducted against their will or are otherwise deprived of their freedom by officials from various branches or levels of government, or by an organized group, or ordinary individuals acting in the name of the government or with its support, either directly or indirectly, or with its consent or acceptance, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of those concerned or to acknowledge their deprivation of liberty, thereby stripping these individuals of legal protection. The use of enforced disappearance as a strategic method to spread terror within a community is widespread. The sense of insecurity that arises from this practice affects not only the relatives of the disappeared but also their local population groups and the entire community. What is #mysterious_loss? It is a type of loss or deprivation that occurs in one of two cases: The first is physical absence with psychological presence, which will be the focus of the upcoming lines and in the interview, and occurs when a close one is physically missing – lost, kidnapped, disappeared, but remains psychologically present as they might reappear. Examples can be catastrophic (e.g., arrest, lost at sea with no body found for burial) or (divorce, migration, displacement). The second type of mysterious loss is physical presence with psychological absence. The loved one is physically present but is psychologically missing. Catastrophic examples include Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions leading to dementia, brain injuries from accidents, stroke, coma, chronic psychiatric disorders, depression, autism, and addiction. #Affected_by_practices_of_enforced_disappearance: The victims themselves, and their family members who are unaware of the fate of their loved ones, are affected. Their emotions swing between hope and despair as they await in confusion, sometimes for years, for news that may never come. Its impact on communities Communities are directly affected by the disappearance of the sole breadwinner, in addition to being affected by the deteriorating financial situation of families and their social marginalization. Enforced disappearance is often used as a strategy to instill terror within the community. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice affects not only the relatives of the disappeared but also their local population groups and the entire community. Mainly affected by the practices of enforced disappearance: Relatives and friends of the victims The families of the disappeared, as well as their friends, suffer from slow psychological distress, not knowing whether the victim is still alive, and if so, where they are held, the conditions of their detention, and their health status. They also realize that they are threatened as well, that they may meet the same fate, and that seeking the truth could expose them to further dangers. The family’s ordeal often worsens due to the financial consequences of enforced disappearance. The disappeared person is often the main provider for the family and may be the only member able to farm the land or manage the family business. Thus, the emotional disturbance is compounded by material deprivation, which becomes more severe in the family due to the additional costs incurred if they decide to search for the disappeared person. Furthermore, the family does not know if their loved one will ever return, making it difficult for them to adjust to the new situation. Women and children often bear the brunt of the serious economic difficulties that typically accompany cases of disappearance. #Path_of_grief_and_suffering for families post-mysterious loss: Initially, immediately after the disappearance, there is significant social sympathy. However, it is not advisable to start mourning rituals. There is pressure to maintain hope and not act as if the person has died by engaging in mourning rituals. In the first months after the disappearance, families are supported by community members, clans, and extended families who are sympathetic. However, the support often focuses on reducing anxiety and promises of hope. People may say that the missing child/adult may still return, and the focus here is not on the grief of the families. Relatives and neighbors advise the parents not to #mourn publicly because

the death has not yet been confirmed. Over time, sympathy begins to wane. Empathy fatigue leads to indifference; people tire of the individual’s preoccupation with the disappeared person, and sympathy decreases, increasing indifference in social reactions. With “normal” or expected grief, the community expects individuals to eventually recover from loss and grief or to “get over it.” However, in the case of mysterious loss, there is no specific mechanism for the person to move beyond their grief. Post-mysterious loss grief is called #deprived_grief. #Deprived_grief is grief that is not recognized by society and cannot be publicly mourned, expressed, or socially affirmed. How the deprivation of grief and its rituals are handled varies between cultures, but it generally receives a social response that starts with full social support at the time of initial loss, and over time, sympathy decreases, beginning the isolation of the grieving individual, who may face harassment, stigma, and even hostility. How can #dealing_with_mysterious_loss be handled? Mysterious loss is a disturbance in relationships, occurring as a result of some kind of imposed circumstances such as war, organized violence, genocide, political persecution, or population marginalization. Pauline Boss’s theory suggests that this strange type of loss is the most exhausting and traumatic because there is no verification, no completion of mourning, no rituals for support, and thus no fading of grief (Boss 1999). Clergy and believers are in a position that allows them to witness this loss and provide support, comfort, and the search for meaning and greater purposes we live for. Also, reference figures, elders, teachers, sages, and leaders can all play an important role in supporting the families of the forcibly disappeared. Because of the established trust relationships between them and the people, they are primary referral sources or may offer advice to the bereaved themselves if they are trained and accredited. Sources for further reading in the comments. Prepared on the occasion of #International_Day_of_the_Victims_of_Enforced_Disappearances.

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