COVID-19: Nigeria Had 23,000 Of 44,000 Missing Persons In Africa- Red Cross

Richard Ginika Izuora

The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, has revealed that it registered nearly 44,000 people as missing in Africa; with nearly half of them children; amid the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The worst-hit country is Nigeria with nearly 23,000 missing people; almost entirely due to the conflict in the northeast of the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, August 26, the ICRC said Nigeria; Ethiopia; South Sudan; Somalia; Libya; the Democratic Republic of Congo; as well as Cameroon make up for 82 per cent of the agency’s missing caseload in the continent amidst COVID-19 restrictions

Sophie Marsac, the regional advisor for the missing as well as their families in Africa for the ICRC; said the development came at a time when the ongoing restrictions have posed as new challenges; in the search for missing people.

“This caseload is a drop in the ocean to the true scale of people; whose family members are searching for them,” Marsac said in a statement; issued in Nairobi ahead of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30.

“Conflict, violence, migration, and climate shocks have not stopped separating families in the pandemic; but our work to find missing people has become even harder,” she said.

“All seven countries have seen a rise in the number of people registered with the ICRC; as missing in the first half of 2020,” the statement said.

“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, where the ICRC would look for cases; is suspended in some places to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure,” it added.

The ICRC called on authorities to acknowledge the tragedy of missing people and the impact that it has on families and to do everything in their power to prevent people from disappearing and to provide information to families on the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.

“International Day of the Disappeared should remind us that an untold number of families in Africa are searching for a loved one, many of them parents looking for a child,” said Marsac.

“Families of the missing often suffer psychologically and face economic and legal challenges. The tragedy of missing people is a humanitarian crisis and one that cannot be forgotten as the world focuses on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

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