Atleast 4,000 missing in South Sudan, says ICRC
By Jale Richard
More than 4,000 people are reportedly missing in South Sudan due to the conflict and violence, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday.
“The ICRC is following more than 4,000 cases of South Sudanese who are missing. Most of them have gone missing because they were forced to flee fighting or internal violence and lost contact with their loved ones,” the ICRC said in a statement.
As the world marks the International Day of Missing Persons, today, ICRC says the number of missing people in South Sudan could be higher than those registered.
“Each of these cases represents a family who is searching and living with the agony of not knowing what happened to their loved one,” said James Reynolds, ICRC’s Head of Delegation in South Sudan. “Some of these families haven’t heard from their relatives for years and can’t move on. They wait for a husband, a son, a sister and suffer social, economic and psychological consequences.”
In 2019 alone, the ICRC said it registered 451 missing people in South Sudan, bringing the total caseload to 4,225.
The International Day of Missing Persons is an occasion to recall the consequences of having a missing relative and also the need to build legal frameworks to support people looking for loved ones.
“Under international law, states have the obligation to prevent people from going missing and if people go missing, they have a responsibility to clarify their fate and whereabouts,” said Reynolds. “A legal framework in South Sudan would translate the international legal obligations of the state into practical actions to register and trace missing people as well as provide support to their families.”
To support families looking for their missing relatives, The Family Links Network of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement offers a broad range of services, starting with the registration of tracing requests.
The ICRC tries to match the data collected in these requests with other available information. The organization uses a variety of tools to help people restore contact with their loved ones, including letters known as Red Cross Messages as well as phone calls. During the six first months of 2019, the ICRC, with the support of the South Sudan Red Cross, facilitated nearly 7,500 phone calls between family members and helped exchange 1,450 Red Cross Messages.
According to the United Nations, about four million people were displaced inside and outside of the country, due to the civil war that started late 2013.
Most of the people displaced were cut off from their families and many lost contacts.