Tens of thousands of Syrians have been forcibly disappeared since 2011, the majority of them at the hands of the Syrian regime but other armed and extremist groups, such as ISIS, have also used the practice as a weapon of war, which amounts to a crime against humanity.
Those disappeared include peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, doctors, humanitarians, and ordinary civilians who happen to come from areas that opposed the Syrian regime’s control. In many cases, they are held in unofficial, cramped underground centers where they are exposed to horrific conditions, including torture and deprivation of proper food, drinking water, hygiene, and medical care.
The families of the disappeared have suffered for years without news about the fate of their loved ones, where they’re being held, and whether they’re alive or dead. Some families have identified their relatives in the leaked ‘Caesar photos’, shocking photos of torture smuggled out by a military defector, but many are denied confirmation of their death or information about where they are buried. Like millions of Syrians, many families whose loved ones are missing have been forced to flee the country and become refugees in Syria’s neighboring countries or in Europe but they’re all living in limbo, waiting for any news.
‘Syria Waits’ is a photography project by The Syria Campaign that offers families of Syria’s disappeared a space to tell their story as they wait for any news about their loved ones and campaign with extraordinary courage for answers, freedom, and justice.
If you have a loved one who’s been detained or disappeared in Syria and would like to add your own story here, please send us a photo, along with your name and a few words about your missing loved one at email@example.com.
Sameer al-Doumy (France): Sameer al-Doumy is a multiple-award-winning Syrian photographer born in 1998 in the city of Douma. He won the 2016 World Press Photo award for his coverage of the war in Syria. Currently, Sameer is an AFP freelance photographer based in Normandy, France.
Abdullah Hammam (Turkey): Abdullah Hammam is a Syrian photographer from Eastern Ghouta. He has documented the conflict in Syria since 2011, freelancing with news agencies and humanitarian organizations such as the AFP, IRC, and CARE.
Dalia Khamissy (Lebanon): Dalia Khamissy is a Lebanese photographer based in Beirut, Lebanon. She received a diploma in photography from the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik in 1999. Her work since then has revolved around social and political stories in the Middle East.
Aref Tammawi (Syria): Aref Tammawi is a Syrian photographer based in the eastern countryside of Aleppo. He works as a freelancer for News agencies such as AFP, EPA, and Anadolu Agency.