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23,000 Nigerians Missing in 10 Years, FG Warns of More ‘Disappearances’



Betta Edu, who serves as the minister of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, shared on Wednesday that a distressing number of 23,000 individuals have been reported as missing in Nigeria due to the insurgency over a span of less than ten years. Expressing deep concern, the Nigerian official emphasized that this figure is only a fraction of the actual situation, suggesting that the problem might be much larger.

Ms. Edu conveyed this information during an event in Abuja commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared, where stakeholders came together to discuss these pressing issues.

In her statement, she highlighted that the 23,000 missing people represent only half of the total count of missing individuals in the entire African continent. Ms. Edu pointed out that the data about missing people was presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS), and it primarily originates from regions within the country that have been affected by the insurgency.

She expressed, “At present, there are still more than 23,000 individuals whose whereabouts remain unknown. Nonetheless, it’s quite likely that this number is merely the visible portion of a much larger problem, necessitating a more effective system to enhance reporting and meticulously track cases of individuals who have gone missing.” The minister stressed that a more systematic approach is required to address this issue.

Ms. Edu underlined that the situation of missing people has emerged as a highly significant and enduring humanitarian consequence of armed conflicts. She called for a thoughtful and reflective approach to tackling this critical problem.

Ms Edu explained that the present administration was committed to curbing the issue, hence the need to facilitate and strengthen the legal frameworks that would substantially address the incidences of disappearance.

Yann Bonzon, ICRC head of delegation, said over 23,000 people registered by the Family Links Network in Nigeria never returned home and remain missing.

Mr Bonzon said the number did not convey the true extent of the issue.

“The actual number of missing persons is likely to be much higher, with Nigeria having more missing people than any other country on the continent,” noted the ICRC head of delegation. “Until a national mechanism is created, immediate steps must be taken by the Nigerian government to prevent disappearances, to prevent the disruption of family links and maintaining links between separated family members.”

Mr Bonzo added, “It will also help to address proper management of the dead.”

Mr Bonzon said ICRC would continue working closely with the government and relevant stakeholders to prevent disappearances and encourage and promote adopting international best practices.

“Let us collectively remind ourselves that while people might be gone, they will never be forgotten, and their families will never stop searching for them,” stated Mr Bonzo.