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News: Missing, separated, dead migrants: New ICRC report rings alarm on more than 25,000 minors missing across Africa

Memorial for missing migrants in Harare, Zimbabwe. Picture: ICRC

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegaye

Addis Abeba: Latest figure released by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in connection with the International Day of the Disappearance revealed that there are more than 25,000 minors missing across Africa,. This was disclosed at a joint ICRC-AU meeting high-level policy dialogue on missing, separated and dead migrants held on on Tuesday, 30 August at the AU Headquarters in Addis Abeba.

The event was aimed at seeking to create a platform to enhance awareness of the fate of missing migrants and their families and to promote a coherent and effective African approach to the issue.

During the event it was disclosed that more than 25,000 minors are missing across Africa. “Children represent 40 percent of the 64,000 cases of disappeared persons registered by the ICRC across the continent,’’ the report by the ICRC said. 

Tens of thousands of people go missing across the continent as a result of armed conflict, other situations of violence, natural disasters and in the context of migration. “The ICRC alone has registered more than 64, 000 missing persons in Africa, of which over 16,000 were reported in 2021.”

Patrick Youssef, regional director for the ICRC in Africa said: “Sadly, the 25,000 registered cases do 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.”

Addis Standard asked Bruce Makoye, Head of Delegation of ICRC to AU, if African leaders’ efforts will bring any change in addressing the state of missing migrants in Africa. “AU in collaboration with ICRC and other stakeholders will work on clarifying the fate of missing Africans; it will work on with the missing person’s loved ones to exactly know the status of the missing person,” adding, “AU will work hard to connect the dislodged families,” he emphasized.

Answering if AU has achieved any success in finding missing persons, Makoye stated that so far the AU has been able to register more than 4,000 missing persons which is, according to him, quite a number of people and is actually a great success. “Our aim is not to retain missing persons back to the continent but to let them have a respected, and dignified human rights where they opted to live,” he added.

According to Makoye, the AU has drafted a resolution called 486 that enables the rights of missing African persons to get human rights benefits.  The resolution inter alia calls on state parties to prevent migrants from going missing through search and rescue efforts and by assessing the impact of migration laws and policies and to cooperate in the search for those that have gone missing.

In many parts of Africa, a growing percentage of the missing persons caseload concerns cases of migrants. Increasing migration driven by a broad range of factors that include armed conflict and insecurity, poor governance and economy, environmental degradation and climate changes

Among others, the event was featured by keynote speeches by the AUC Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, Vice President of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Commissioner Maya Sahli Fadel, and by the ICRC Regional Director for Africa, Patrick Yousssef. AS

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