Thousands declared missing amid COVID-19 scourge

International Committee of the Red Cross

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – ABOUT 44 000 people are registered as missing across Africa.

Forty-five percent of the cases were children at the time they went missing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) disclosed the figures ahead of the International Day of the Disappeared, marked on August 30.

“This caseload is a drop in the ocean to the true scale of people whose family members are searching for them,” said Sophie Marsac, the regional advisor for the missing and their families in Africa for the ICRC.

She said conflict, violence, migration and climate shocks had also not stopped separating families in the COVID-19 pandemic,

“Our work to find missing people has become even harder,” Marsac said in Nairobi.

Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia make up 82 percent of ICRC’s missing caseload in Africa.

The highest among them is Nigeria which at nearly 23 000 people is ICRC’s largest caseload of missing people in the continent.

The conflict by the Boko Haram in the northeast of the country drives the crisis.

All above-mentioned countries have seen a rise in the number of people registered with the ICRC as missing in the first half of 2020.

COVID-19 has created new challenges in searching for missing people.

It is no longer possible to gather people in large groups to listen for names or look through photos.

Many countries suspended domestic travel between states or provinces, making it more difficult for searches to be done over wider geographic areas.

Access to places of detention is also suspended in some places.

– CAJ News

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