The Current

Decades after Lebanon's civil war, thousands still missing

In 1984, 20-year-old Emad Abdullah left his Beirut home to see friends and disappeared. It was the height of Lebanon's civil war and Syria was known to be jailing Lebanese. Now many families are hoping those who disappeared might now come home.
Samia Abdullah with a picture of her her brother, Emad Abdullah who disappeared during the Lebanese civil war.​ (Courtesy of Samia Abdullah)

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Imagine a loved one going missing at a time of war. Waiting day by day for any word on his fate. Then year by year. Then decade by decade.

Hard as it may be to imagine such ongoing uncertainty, that's been the reality for many Lebanese families. 

Emad Abdallah is just one of thousands of people who went missing during Lebanon's civil war. His sister, Samia, is hoping she will see him again. (Courtesy of Samia Abdullah )

Lebanon's 15-year civil war ended in 1990, but 17,000 people remain missing. Some of those are believed to be in Syria, but as that country's own civil war rages on, it churns up moments of hope and despair.

'Many prisoners come, say "we know Emad. We saw him. He is in the prison Tadmur. He is very thin. Sitting alone all the time and not speaking with anyone.'"- Samia Abdullah, Emad's sister

Rebecca Collard's documentary, The Unforgotten, shares the story of Samia Abdullah's search for her brother, Emad.

The Current's documentary editor is Joan Webber.