The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says a total of 48,000 people have been registered as missing in Africa.
The ICRC, in a statement issued to mark the international day of the missing people on Monday, Aug. 30, said disappearance is one of the most damaging and long-lasting humanitarian consequences of armed conflicts, violence, and migration, affecting thousands of families in Africa.
Patrick Youssef, the director of the Africa region for the ICRC, said that the figure represents “only a fraction of the actual number of missing people and the vast humanitarian crisis we are dealing with.”
“When we hear reports about the humanitarian impact of conflicts and violence, attention is only placed on the dead, displaced and visible damage,” Youssef said.
“The plight of people’s separation from their loved ones is often passed by. However, their plight continues many years after the guns fell silent and the TV cameras went.”
In Nigeria, families of missing persons live with the anguish of not knowing the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones. More than 24,000 persons are registered missing in Nigeria by ICRC and the NRCS as a result of the armed conflict.
Since 2009, Boko Haram insurgency has led to the death and separation of tens of thousands of people, displaced nearly two million, and spread into neighboring countries.
The human cost of the conflict and violence in many parts of Nigeria has taken its toll on thousands of lives. The crisis has further spiked since 2020, according to the United Nations.
Despite the spike in displacement and migration, Youssef said, ICRC has been obliged to help people maintain family contacts.
“We also stand ready to provide our technical and legal expertise to help ascertain the fate and the whereabouts of missing people and to support their families,” Youssef said.
He called on the humanitarian communities to focus on preventing people from going missing, facilitate searches and identification if they do go missing, and address the specific needs of their families.
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