NIGERIA has been described as the country with the highest number of missing persons in the world according to a recent Bloomberg report which revealed that the insurgency in the northeast has left millions unaccounted for.
According to the report, the decade-long conflict in northeastern Nigeria has left almost 22,000 people missing. It added that this is more than any other country worldwide where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) registers missing persons.
Nigeria’s northeast has been ravaged by Islamist militants since 2009 and while the Nigerian Army recently said it has gotten the situation largely under control, attacks still occur weekly and large swathes of the area remain inaccessible to humanitarian organisations. This Boko Haram conflict has forced an estimated 2m people to flee their homes.
ICRC president Peter Mauer, said: “Families are the greatest casualty of 10 years of war in northeast Nigeria. They have been torn apart.”
He recently paid a five-day visit to Nigeria, where among other places he visited the Dolori internally displaced persons camp in Borno State. Apparently, almost 60% of those who have been declared missing were children at the time of their registration.
Among other things, the ICRC works with the Nigeria Red Cross and the Red Crescent societies in the region to trace missing people by showing photographs, calling out names and going door-to-door in camps and communities. Only 367 cases have been solved since the organisation received its first cases in 2013.
Missing-persons cases remain open until either the Red Cross and Red Crescent network finds out what happened or the family reports back that they found the person. Boko Haram, which has killed tens of thousands of people in the past decade and its breakaway faction loyal to Islamic State are responsible for these abductions and killings.