According to the latest figures shared by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 64,000 cases of disappeared persons have been reported across Africa. In Nigeria alone, over 25,000 people have been reported missing. Almost 14,000 or more than half of the missing are children.
There are over 35 active armed conflicts in Africa today; thousands of people, including children, cross borders, the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety and better life each year. Such movements often entail great risk, including the risk of disappearance. Documented cases of missing persons are on the rise; however, the ICRC warns 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. The 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. 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. »
In 2022 from January to June, 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 Program for Families of the Missing.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).