As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has disclosed that it is in search of over 10,000 persons declared missing across the states of the federation.
The Head of Delegation of the ICRC in Nigeria, Eloi Fillion, who made the disclosure, lamented that in spite of the worrisome figure of missing persons in the country, adequate measures have not been put in place to prevent disappearances or provide vital information on missing persons.He stated this yesterday in Abuja at an event to mark the 2017 International Day of the Disappeared, organised by the National Technical Committee on the Establishment and Management of a Database of Missing Persons in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).August 30th of every year has been set aside by the United Nations to commemorate the International Day of Missing Persons, whose disappearances are occasioned by armed conflicts, violence, natural disasters, forced migration among others.“Together with the Red Cross Societies in neighbouring countries, the ICRC is searching for 10,480 persons, most of them children. This year alone, over 4,000 tracing requests have been made to the Red Cross family by persons seeking information about the fate of a missing relative,” Fillion said.While noting that the unexplainable absence of a loved one leads to intense suffering as the affected family members are unable to grief when faced with the anguish of not knowing the fate of their loved ones, he however promised support from the ICRC in helping Nigeria deal with the issue.
The ICRC said so far, it had been able to locate 746 individuals out of which 580 had been reunited with their families.“The ICRC is supporting the efforts of the Nigerian government to address the issue of the missing persons and the rights of their families. Establishing the fate of the missing is and should be first and foremost seen as a humanitarian prerogative.“In particular the ICRC is supporting the decision to establish a Temporary Mechanism on missing persons,” he said.Adding: The ICRC has supported the National Technical Committee for the Establishment and Management of a Database of Missing Persons since it was inaugurated in 2016.”In a remark, Chairperson of the National Technical Committee on the Establishment and Management of a Database of Missing Persons, Maryam Uwais, disclosed that the federal government is about to embark on a pilot project of the Temporary Mechanism in three states of the federation, namely Borno, Rivers and Benue.According to the chairperson, the database apart from providing documentation on missing persons, is expected to throw more light on the fate and whereabouts of those missing as well as extend support to their family members.She called on members of the public, particularly the media and development partners to identify with and support the project, adding that the lives of all Nigerians matters before the current administration.
Earlier, Acting Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Oti Ovrawah, urged relevant authorities to take appropriate measures in treating cases of disappearance and to continuously update families about the progress achieved through such procedures until some measure of closure is achieved.“The obligation to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons implies respect for the families’ right to know the fate of relatives reported missing, their whereabouts or the circumstances of their death,” she said.