"They comforted us to make the family mourning and remember our brother in a good manner"

The Victims Unit provided psychosocial care and guidance to families who received the corpses of 11 victims of forced disappearance in Medellin today.

The coffins are lined up next to each other and at the front sit the relatives who attend the ceremony of dignified delivery of skeletal remains in the Prosecutor's Office in Medellín. The moment to close the duel has arrived for the families of these 11 victims of the armed conflict murdered and then disappeared.

The anguish that lasted 13 years without knowing the whereabouts of Alirio Antonio Gallego Herrera, and the painful moment of this family mourning due to his forced disappearance, found relief with the orientation of the psychosocial team of the Unit for Attention and Reparation to the Victims .

"They were waiting for 13 years with uncertainty, waiting to know what happened and how it was that my brother had this, a wise, hardworking person, who took care of my parents", says Ana, his sister. And he highlight that "they prepared us to receive this news and make a duel to remember it well and forgive us with that person who left".

This man was 45 years old when he disappeared on December 28, 2004 in Medellín without a trace. It was found in Rionegro cemetery as NN (unidentified).

The remains of the 11 men were exhumed by the Prosecutor's Office in the regions of Urabá, north and east of Antioquia and correspond to victims of homicide and forced disappearance since 1995 by guerrillas, paramilitary groups and extrajudicial executions of the public force.

During the two days prior to the ceremony of remains delivery today, the 11 families received a psychosocial accompaniment and participated in exercises to strengthen themselves in the difficult moment of receiving the coffin with their remains and continue with the burial in local cemeteries.

Thanks to this work, the family of Alirio made the duel and rescued the memory of that loved one, whom they remember as a very familiar man, a decorator by profession and a football fan. This is what Maria, the mother of this victim, recognizes: "Although this is very painful, they reassured us, we were well taken care of and with letters we made to remember it, we were filled with strength".

Repair path to follow

According to Jorge Mario Álzate Maldonado, Victims Unit director in Antioquia, in addition to "psychosocial care to close a family mourning, the families of these victims of forced disappearance are guided on the comprehensive reparation route that continue for them so that they can access other measures, such as economic compensation and the other offer from the State".

In coordination with the Prosecutor Office, the Victims Unit is also responsible for co-financing the logistics and transportation expenses, food and lodging in Medellin for the families, as well as for funerals.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, 7,056 human skeletal remains have been exhumed throughout the country, of which 3,642 have been handed over to their families.

Since the Victims Law issuance, psychosocial attention and resources were provided for the ceremonies of delivery of skeletal remains to more than 2,000 families with victims of enforced disappearance and homicide in the country. And more than 2,150 relatives of the disappeared in the conflict have participated in the Emotional Recovery Strategy.

Since 2012, more than 10 thousand relatives of victims of enforced disappearance have been compensated in Antioquia, with resources of more than 51 billion pesos.