The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, says over 64,000 people have been reported missing in Nigeria and other African countries.
The ICRC released the figures in a statement on Tuesday marking the commemoration of the International Day for Disappeared Persons.
According to the figures, about 25,000 are from Nigeria and 14,000 of these missing persons are children.
“According to the latest figures shared by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 64,000 cases of disappeared persons have been reported across Africa.
“In Nigeria alone, over 25,000 people have been reported missing. Almost 14,000 or more than half of the missing are children,” the statement disclosed.
The statement added that there are 35 active armed conflicts currently ravaging the African continent.
“There are over 35 active armed conflicts in Africa today; thousands of people, including children, cross borders, the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety and a better life each year.
“Such movements often entail great risk, including the risk of disappearance. Documented cases of missing persons are on the rise; however, the ICRC warns that the actual figures are much higher,” the statement added.
The humanitarian body explained that the almost 14,000 children registered does not capture the full scope of this often-neglected and tragic humanitarian issue.
The statement also quoted Yann Bonzon, head of delegation for the ICRC in Nigeria, as saying that, “there is no doubt that there are more children whose fate remains unknown”.
The ICRC explained that during displacement, children face risks such as exploitation, violence, mental distress and disappearance. adding that many also end up alone, with no news of their families’ whereabouts.
“The ICRC has more than 5,200 documented cases of unaccompanied children in Africa”. the statement added.
Patrick Youssef, the regional director for ICRC in Africa, said, “Having the right policies in place can save lives.
“It is an essential step to protect migrants and families of missing persons. This is a question of humanity and human dignity,” he said.
The global humanitarian body also disclosed that families of the disappeared face immense pain and obstacles that often transcend generations.
“They are stuck in limbo, unable to move forward or grieve. The search for their loved ones never ends,” it added.