NIGERIA’S Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, has said the country lacks reliable data on missing persons.
The minister disclosed this at a meeting of stakeholders organised by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Abuja.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Nasir Gwarzo, Farouk said, “Currently, Nigeria has no national structure or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to address humanitarian consequences of disappearances”.
“To date, there is no reliable national data on the number of missing persons in Nigeria because there is no official register.
“It is very understable why Nigeria as a country and this Ministry is very concerned about this often-neglected and tragic humanitarian and social issue,” she added.
Farouk noted that irregular migration by many Nigerians, including children through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in search of safety and better life, contributed to risk of disappearance.
- However, she said the Federal Government through the Ministry will establish a National Mechanism to raise awareness about the plight of the missing persons.
“Also, the needs of their families, establish a collaborative network between and among difeferent stakeholders where methodologies in approaching the question of missing persons and their families will be addressed”, she said.
Speaking on plans by government to locate missing persons in the country, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu said “no responsible government would leave this matter without addressing it”.
“So, it is a matter that should be a source of concern for all us representing one agency or the other.
“I also believe that we will soon begin to see ourselves the role that we can play in bringing this to fruition to the extent that we will to that stage where we will have a proper database”, he said.
A report by the ICRC last year said Nigeria accounts for the highest number of missing persons ever registered by the organisation.
According to the report, 25,000 out of 64,000 missing persons are from Nigeria.
The head of ICRC Nigeria Delegation, Yann Bonzon said “these are numbers of cases that have been registered with the ICRC and Nigerian Red Cross Society. We know that this number is likely just a tip of the iceberg”.
Bonzon added that “the ICRC know that no fewer than 13,000 families in Nigeria are seeking missing loved ones”.