14 C
New York
Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Buy now


Thousands of Africans missing in conflict

When When Boko Haram jihadists attacked her village in northeastern Nigeria in 2015, Lydia Adamu’s parents and their six children escaped — with nothing. At first they seemed to be relatively lucky, safely reaching the city of Yola, hundreds of kilometers to the south. When word came that their village had calmed down, her parents ventured back to salvage some items. What happened next is murky. All Ms Adamu knew was that “the armed men came again and opened fire. They grabbed my parents on their motorcycles and disappeared.” She never saw them again and didn’t know if they were dead or alive. .

Hear this story.
Enjoy more audio and podcasts iOS or android.

Your browser does not support

Her parents are among some 24,000 Nigerian missing persons registered with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), worldwide non-governmental organization. This is only a fraction of the real number in Nigeria, says Anne-Sofie Stockman. International Committee of the Red Cross In the capital Abuja. Short of funds, the council has focused on the northeast, where jihadists operate freely across large swathes of territory. Elsewhere in Nigeria, however, the number of disappearances is increasing due to kidnappers, separatists, and clashes between farmers and herders. Even in the Northeast, countless cases were never registered.

throughout africa International Committee of the Red Cross Some 71,000 people have been registered as missing; here too, the real number must be much larger. About 40% of them were children. “You can imagine how many family members are traumatized if a person goes missing,” Joshua Odu said, 2015.

Not knowing if a loved one is still alive is a harrowing thing. Ms Adamu, soft-spoken and shy, was in her 20s when her parents were taken away. Suddenly, she had to take care of five distraught siblings. The youngest, who was just five at the time, “kept asking where his parents were”.

Those who remained were often destitute, especially if the breadwinner disappeared. In Nigeria, there is no legal definition of a missing person. After seven years, the family can apply to the High Court to declare someone presumed dead. Until then, his or her bank accounts, pension and inheritance cannot be touched. Land cannot be divided or sold. Spouses cannot divorce or remarry.

A handful of African countries, including Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Senegal, can legally declare a person missing, but it can take years. But almost all African countries lack the legal protections of countries like Colombia, which has a national registry of missing persons, commissions to find missing persons and state support for missing persons.

in nigeria non-governmental organizationLet’s try to fill in the blanks.Mr Odu and Ms Adamu participated in a International Committee of the Red Cross Programs that provide mental health support, guidance on legal issues, and financial help. “It healed my wounds,” Mr Odu said. “I can now draw the line and say I can start over.”

this International Committee of the Red Cross Also try to find the missing. If they have a lead, they send volunteers to the door to ask questions. In pending cases, they travel to nearby communities where missing persons were last seen and read their names. However, for 80% of cases registered with Yola, it is still too dangerous to access it.

Unity is rare. There were only 15 in Nigeria last year. “It brought me and my wife more joy today than the day he was born,” the father of a 15-year-old said when he was reunited with his family in February. The boy has been missing for more than ten years. He fled to Cameroon at the age of five after jihadists attacked his uncle’s village, where he had attended a religious school. His uncle was killed.

The boy was reunited with his parents just five months after they contacted him International Committee of the Red Cross, at an unusually fast pace, in part because he remembered enough to draw a map showing their home. Very few young children can do this. “When you ask them what your mother’s name is, they tell you we call her mother,” Fatima Halilu Ibrahim International Committee of the Red Cross In Yola explained sadly.

this International Committee of the Red Cross Can’t do it all. Mr Odu has been campaigning in Yola and Abuja, calling on the authorities to step up their operations. “But apart from the Red Cross, no one came to us.”

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles