Looking back on 2020 – supporting the families of hostages and former hostages throughout a pandemic.
Thank you – from our Chief Executive, Lara Symons
Hostage International has not been spared the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but reflecting on this extraordinary and difficult year, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has enabled us continue our crucial support for those affected by kidnaps and hostage-taking around the world.
We started the year with ambitious plans which we quickly had to adapt as lock-down took hold, but our priority of providing uninterrupted support to our beneficiaries has remained at the forefront of our work.
Many of you may have spent much of 2020 apart from loved ones and have suffered from the uncertainty that the Coronavirus created. That separation and uncertainty affected people in large numbers around the world and could be talked about openly and shared with others experiencing the same challenges. The separation, isolation and uncertainty that many of our beneficiaries face, whether for days, weeks or years, is significant. Above all, it is almost always suffered in silence and alone, because the cause must remain confidential and because few other people can relate to the impact of a hostage experience.
During this festive season, some families may be able to be together while others look forward to a more hopeful 2021, but many of our beneficiaries’ loved ones continue to be held against their will and the likelihood of a video call – let alone being reunited – remains a distant hope. Against the backdrop of Covid-19, some people have no idea if their loved one is safe, well or even alive.
For some of those who have previously been held hostage, the restrictions resulting from the pandemic have triggered memories associated with captivity. Therefore, in 2020 we have seen a higher proportion of former hostages or detainees reaching out to us for support.
But thanks to our team of fantastic volunteers and the generosity of our donors we have been able to continue our vital services.
The need for the niche expertise of Hostage International
Kidnapping is a problem occurring in many parts of the world, but negotiations are conducted in secret for the hostage’s safety and few people have any understanding of what is involved. Affected family members are warned not to talk about the incident leading to feelings of extreme isolation, frustration and anxiety. And following the hostage’s return, there is a pro-longed period of recovery and adjustment for all concerned.
Through our specialist team, just this year we have supported around 30 individuals across Europe, Canada, Australia, Nigeria and South Africa. Each former hostage or family member affected is given as much time from us as they need, ranging from hours, weeks, months or years. We are there to help guide, listen and offer tailored support when someone has been taken and held captive outside their home country. We are led by our beneficiaries and only work with those who approach us for help – hence our plans to further raise our visibility so that anyone in need of our services will know where to find us.
We rely on your help – whether financial or spreading the word of Hostage International via your networks – and can’t thank you enough for the difference you make to people living through the unimaginable trauma of hostage-taking.
Please give whatever you can and keep in touch.
With very best wishes for a more hopeful 2021.