Sixteen months after the end of the civil war in northern Sri Lanka, thousands of former rebel fighters are still missing or in government detention, according to the government and civil society.
Anusha Ravichandran, 15, and her family lost contact with 16-year-old Dharisah two months after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels forcibly recruited her in March 2009. Ravichandran spoke to IRIN about her loss:
"My sister was my best friend. We shared a lot together. Even during the war, she would comfort me when I was scared of the shelling going on around me. We moved from place to place during the war. I did not have many friends and she gave me everything a friend and a sister can give.
"They [Tamil Tigers rebels] were losing the war. They wanted one [recruit] from each family. We managed to hide our sister from the kidnappers [rebels] in 2008 but in [March] 2009, they took her from us.
"She got in touch with us through several other cadres who were in the movement in April. She told us the Tigers warned her not to escape or her family would be killed. I know she was scared for our safety.
"There was nobody to tell when this happened. There was nobody in control. We hoped that she would return after being conscripted. When the war ended in May last year, we had high hopes about her return. But she never came.
"Sometimes when I try to study for school, I remember my sister and I feel very sad. My parents are sad too. We have lost a lot, but my sister is my biggest loss.
"We have told [the Sri Lanka] human rights commission and ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] about her fate but nobody has any idea of her whereabouts.
"I want somebody to find her - please bring my sister back to me."
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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