Ahead of the International Day of Missing Persons on Friday, ICRC says over 450 South Sudanese went missing this year alone.
According to the humanitarian organization, there are more than 4,000 cases of South Sudanese who are missing since the outbreak of the civil war in 2013.
ICRC says most of them have gone missing because they were forced to flee fighting or internal violence and lost contact with their loved ones.
“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, the ICRC states that it has registered 451 missing people in the country, bringing the total caseload to 4,225.
However, with about four million people displaced inside and outside of the country, and the difficulties to access some areas or limited cellular networks, the number of missing people is probably higher, it stated in a statement.
“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.”
The International Day of Missing Persons is commemorated annually on the 30th of August.
It 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.
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