Defence & Security

ICRC raises alarm over 25,000 missing persons in Nigeria

By Paul Michael

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has raised alarm over 64,000 cases of disappeared persons reported across Africa.

According to a report on the latest figures shared on ICRC’s website, over 25,000 people have been reported missing in Nigeria. The report said 14,000 or more than half of those missing are children.

There are over 35 active armed conflicts in Africa at the moment; thousands of people, including children, cross borders, the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, are in search of safety and better life each year, the report said

According to ICRC, such movements often entail great risk, including the risk of disappearance while noting that documented cases of missing persons are on the rise.

It, however, warned that the actual figures are much higher.

“Sadly, the almost 14,000 children registered does not capture the full scope of this often-neglected and tragic humanitarian issue. There is no doubt that there are more children whose fate remains unknown,” said Yann Bonzon, head of delegation for the ICRC in Nigeria.

During displacement, children face risks such as exploitation, violence, mental distress and disappearance. Many also end up alone, with no news of their families’ whereabouts.

Read Also: Police rescues 5-month-old baby, 11 other kidnapped victims

ICRC has more than 5,200 documented cases of unaccompanied children in Africa.

“Having the right policies in place can save lives. It is an essential step to protect migrants and families of missing persons. This is a question of humanity and human dignity,” said Patrick Youssef, the regional director for ICRC in Africa.

He added, “Families of the disappeared face immense pain and obstacles that often transcend generations. They are stuck in limbo, unable to move forward or grieve. The search for their loved ones never ends.”

Between January to June 2022, the ICRC together with the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS), assisted in the exchange of 1,250 Red Cross Messages containing family news and reunited 31 separated children/unaccompanied minors with their families while 440 phone calls were provided to families to maintain family contact.

In addition, families of 377 persons received information about the whereabouts or fate of their loved ones and 146 families of missing persons received psychosocial, economic, legal and administrative support through the Accompaniment Programme for Families of the Missing.

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