ADDIS ABABA – The whereabouts of at least 25,000 children in Africa remains unknown, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a latest figure released ahead of the 2022 International Day of the Disappeared.
These Children represent 40% of the 64,000 cases of disappeared persons registered by the ICRC across the continent.
There are over 35 active armed conflicts in Africa today; thousands of people, including children, cross borders, and the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety and better life each year.
Such movements often entail great risk, including the risk of disappearance, say the ICRC today.
Documented cases of missing persons are on the rise; however, the ICRC says, the actual figures are much higher.
“Sadly, the 25,000 registered cases do not capture the full scope of this often-neglected and tragic humanitarian issue,” said Patrick Youssef, regional director for the ICRC in Africa. “There is no doubt that there are more children whose fate remains unknown,” Youssef added.
During displacement, whether internal or across borders, children face such risks as exploitation, violence, mental distress, and disappearance.
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.
On the International day of the Disappeared tomorrow, the ICRC together with the African Union will hold a high-level policy meeting in Addis Ababa focusing on missing migrants.
The meeting is expected to promote “a more coherent and effective” approach among African states that can help prevent people from going missing and better provide information about their fate to their families.
“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,” said regional director for the ICRC in Africa.
In 2021, together with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the ICRC helped establish the whereabouts and fates of 4,200 people and reunited 1,200 families across the continent.
It also facilitated more than 773,000 phone and video calls between separated families as a result of armed conflict or other situations of violence, migration, detention, or other circumstances.
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