Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Other Migration Crisis

Rohingya migrants stand and sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on May 14, 2015.. Photo by: AFP/Christophe Archambault

A UNHCR report on Mixed Maritime Movements in Southeast Asia, released on 23 February, details the unfolding tragedy of Rohingya migrants making the perilous journey south from Bangladesh and western Myanmar in search of security and work.

More than one million Rohingya live in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State. In the northern part of the state they form the majority. Following rioting in 2012, as many as 160,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya (most of whom were denied citizenship under a 1982 law and therefore do not have identity papers) were forced from their homes by predominantly Buddhist ethnic Rakhines. Large numbers fled to Bangladesh; more than 100,000 sought shelter in camps for…

Latin America and the Missing

At the beginning of March Colombia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Juan Jose Quintana, hosted a meeting of diplomats from the Group of Latin American Countries in The Hague. Participants discussed the issue of missing and disappeared persons in the region.

Countries in Latin America face complex challenges related to accounting for missing persons. Several countries are grappling with issues related to transitional justice as families seek to learn the fate of loved ones who were victims of enforced disappearance under former regimes. In other countries, the rise of narco-trafficking syndicates has fomented an epidemic of disappearances with casualty figures in some cases surpassing those associated with full-scale military conflict. And at the same time, the flow of migrants from Central and South America to North America has fueled a lucrative and shockingly brutal trade in which large numbers of migrants perish at the…

Uganda’s Violent Legacy

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By Lejla Hodzic

More than ten years ago, a UN official described the conflict in Uganda as “the biggest forgotten, neglected humanitarian emergency in the world,” adding that the war in the northern part of the country targeted the civilian population, especially children.

Since its declaration of independence in 1962, Uganda has experienced conflicts among different ethnic, religious and national groups, but the scale of atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) over a period of more than 20 years has been particularly shocking. The LRA insurgency continues – albeit with diminished intensity – today, with children being the principal victims of abductions and forcible conscription.

The LRA came to prominence in the 1980s, one of several rebel movements in Uganda’s economically and politically marginalized north. The group, led by Joseph Kony, began practicing extreme brutality against the Acholi people…

Spain’s Missing

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By Bojana Djokanovic

In February 2016, the news portal Spanish News Today reported the exhumation of the remains of Timoteo Mendieta from a mass grave in Guadalajara. The exhumation was ordered by an Argentinian judge. Mendieta was a victim of the Franco regime, killed in the months after the end of the Spanish civil war. His remains, which were found together with those of 19 or 20 other people, were to be removed from the mass grave and, following DNA analysis in Argentina to confirm the identity, were to be buried elsewhere in accordance with the wishes of his daughter.

The Spanish civil war, from 1936 to 1939, ended with the victory of General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist forces, which had received military support from Germany and Italy. The conflict was characterized by human rights violations and war crimes, perhaps the…

The Long Wait: Lebanon’s Missing Persons

Demonstration in Beirut of families of missing. Photo by:

By Bojana Djokanovic

More than 17,000 people are believed to have disappeared as a result of the conflict in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990.

The conflict included domestic, regional and international actors, which has complicated issues of responsibility and accountability. Peace in the country remains fragile, especially in light of the spillover effect from current regional instability.

Although some legislative and administrative steps have been taken in order to assist families of the missing, a broad-based, government-supported legal and social strategy has not been implemented, which means that only a very small number of missing persons have been located and identified from the earlier conflict. Decades after a formal peace settlement was reached, the issue of the missing remains a serious obstacle to long-term peace, sustainability and progress.

However, civil society has been persistent in keeping the…

Daily World News Digest, 9 March 2016

Council of Europe meeting on missing persons in Cyprus

Cyprus Mail reported on 8 March that discussions began on Tuesday at the Council of Europe (CoE) Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg on the issue of missing persons in Cyprus. Turkey recently circulated a memorandum at the CoE, reiterating its previous call for access to be granted in military sites in the government-controlled areas as “places where there is credible evidence that there are remains belonging to reported missing persons”. The CoE discussions will go on until Thursday in order to examine implementation of human rights judgments, which included the issue of missing persons.

Beyond Boko Haram: Child abductions in Nigeria

Christianity Today magazine carried a story on 8 March saying that this month, two girls who had been kidnapped and subject to forced conversion and marriage in northern Nigeria were returned to their families after unprecedented public pressure. Fourteen-year-old Ese…

Daily World News Digest, 8 March 2016

UN raps Bosnia for violating war widow’s rights

Balkan Insight reported today that the UN’s Human Rights Committee has said that Bosnia and Herzegovina must find and prosecute those responsible for the disappearance of Salih Dovadzija and allow members of his family “psychological rehabilitation and adequate reparations”, his widow’s legal representative told. “The country is also obligated to stop similar offences in the future and must ensure that information about investigations into enforced disappearances be open and available to families of missing persons,” the committee said in a statement last week. Sakiba Dovadzija told that her husband was arrested and detained by Bosnian Serb forces and never seen alive again. After 23 years, his remains were found in the Pale municipality.

ICMP and GRULAC countries discuss issue of missing and disappeared persons

El Ojo Digital, a news portal from Argentine, reported on 7 March that Colombia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands,…

Daily World News Digest, 7 March 2016

Migrant crisis: Boat sinking off Didim, Turkey claims 25 lives

The BBC reported on 6 March that a boat carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece has sunk with the loss of 25 lives, Turkey’s coast guard says. Fifteen people were rescued after the boat capsized near the Turkish resort of Didim. Reports suggest Macedonia has set new curbs on Syrian migrants trying to cross the land border from Greece. NATO is expanding its mission in the Aegean to send patrols to Turkish and Greek territorial waters in the battle to defeat people smugglers.

Second ‘missing’ Hong Kong bookseller returns home from China

Japan Times reported on 6 March that the second of five “missing” Hong Kong booksellers who was detained on the mainland returned to Honk Kong on Sunday, authorities said. Cheung Chi-ping’s return to Hong Kong comes a week after he appeared on Chinese television with four of his…

Daily World News Digest, 4 March 2016

Bosnian war crimes lab ID’s remains found in B.C. as teen who disappeared 35 years ago

CBC News carried a story on 3 March saying that the International Commission on Missing Persons lab that specializes in identifying victims of war crimes has been able to link human remains found in northern British Columbia two decades ago to a Prince Rupert teenager who went missing in 1981. Robert (Bob) William Johnston was 19 years old when he disappeared. Fourteen years after Johnston’s disappearance, hikers found skeletal remains on Mount Hays. The bones were confirmed as belonging to Johnston by the ICMP laboratory, which developed its advanced techniques and protocols as it worked to identify bones found in unmarked or mass graves.

Mexico to investigate the massacre of Central American migrants

Telesur news portal reported on 3 March that the Mexican Supreme Court ordered Wednesday the Attorney General’s Office to open an…

Daily World News Digest, 3 March 2016

Diplomats discuss the missing persons issue in The Hague

El Pais Costa Rica reported on 2 March that Colombia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Juan Jose Quintana, hosted a meeting of diplomats from the Group of Latin American Countries (GRULAC) in The Hague to highlight the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and to discuss the issue of missing and disappeared persons in the region. Countries in Latin America face complex challenges related to accounting for missing persons. However, effective strategies have been developed and governments and other stakeholders can address the issue successfully by working with one another and with international agencies, Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the ICMP, said during the meeting.

Jim Kimsey dies at 76

The New York Times reported on 2 March that Jim Kimsey, a dot-com entrepreneur who helped turn a failed video game company into America Online, the giant dial-up service…