Almost 25 years on from the signing of a peace agreement which put an end to Guatemala’s bloody armed conflict, thousands of families have yet to find the remains of their missing relatives.

More than 200,000 people were killed during the 36-year civil war between the military and left-wing rebels which ended in 1996. Of these, an estimated 45,000 people were forcibly disappeared, their bodies buried in unmarked pits or dumped in mass graves.

Over the years, the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) has tried to locate and identify the remains of the victims of forced disappearances.

They collect DNA samples from family members, carry out exhumations and return the identified remains of victims to their relatives for a dignified burial.

But as the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the FAFG was forced to suspend its field visits for almost a year.

In February, the FAFG resumed its work in the Ixil Mayan communities of Nebaj, Cotzal and Chajul. In 1982, some of the most brutal massacres of the armed conflict were carried out in this area under the orders of then-military ruler General Efrain Rios Montt.

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