The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, yesterday, said that the whereabouts of no fewer than 14,000 children in Nigeria remained unknown.
It also disclosed that these registered cases do not capture the full scope of the often-neglected and tragic humanitarian issue.
In a statement to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, in Abuja, ICRC’s Head of Delegation to Nigeria, Yann Bonzon, raised the alarm that the documented cases of missing persons were on the rise.
He said: “In Nigeria alone, over 25,000 people have been reported missing. Almost 14,000 or more than half of the missing are children.
“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.
“Sadly, the almost 14,000 children registered does not capture the full scope of this often-neglected and tragic humanitarian issue. There is no doubt that there are more children whose fate remains unknown.
“During displacement, children face risks such 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.”
The ICRC also quoted its regional director (Africa), Patrick Youssef, as saying that 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.
“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,” Youssef added.