Monthly Archives: January 2017

November and December Monthly World News Digest



The Greek newspaper Kathimerini, carried a story on 31 October saying that that an estimated 2,500 Pakistani migrants had disappeared from reception centers in the Aegean islands, apparently fleeing due to fears that they would be deported. The Greek Reporter published an article on 1 November saying that a rescue operation was in progress off the southern Peloponnese to locate a vessel transporting an unknown number of migrants. The Guardian reported on 3 November that Amnesty International had described how European migration policies have led to the alleged torture, abuse and illegal deportation of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Italy. On 3 November BBC News reported that more than 200 migrants were believed to have drowned in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya. On 4 November The Daily Mail reported that children bussed from the Calais…

More Ezidi Mass Graves Discovered

In November 2016, news agencies reported the discovery of mass graves believed to contain the remains of Ezidis in Iraq. Voice of America published an article on mass graves found in Sinjar

Da’esh forces occupied Sinjar in the summer of 2014, capturing Ezidis living in the area, and torturing and killing many of them. The first mass grave containing the remains of Ezidis was found in November 2015 after the town of Sinjar was retaken by Kurdish forces. The grave contained the remains of at least 78 women and children.

The Ezidi religious faith combines Islamic belief with…

Support from ICMP Donor Governments

Bojana Djokanovic considers the impact of renewed support in November and December 2016 for ICMP from key government partners.

The problem of missing and disappeared persons has intensified over the last two decades for a variety of reasons including climate change, migration, organized crime, and political instability in some parts of the world. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is the only intergovernmental organization tasked exclusively to work on this issue.

In November and December 2016, a number of donor governments renewed their support for ICMP’s global effort to help states address the challenge of large numbers of missing persons. The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands made a financial contribution of one million euros to support ICMP’s global operations and to enable its transition to new headquarters in The Hague; the British Government made a commitment to provide ICMP with up…

Inter-Agency Meeting on Missing Migrants

An ICMP-IOM roundtable in The Hague highlights the need for greater international coordination in addressing the issue of missing migrants. To read the report, please click here.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has released preliminary figures for all migrant or refugee deaths worldwide in 2016 – reporting that 7,495 men, women and children died or went missing across five continents. This compares to 5,267 in 2014 and 5,740 last year, and brings the total for three years to 18,501. Migrant routes were more deadly in 2016, particularly  the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Europe, where nearly 4,600 migrants perished.

The issues surrounding missing migrants and refugees are unusually complex, involving a wide variety of legal, geographical and political factors. Migrants and refugees may be fleeing conflicts which are the subject of competing diplomatic interests; sea crossings bring international maritime…

Missing and Disappeared Persons: The World in 2016

A selection of news stories from key areas around the world where the issue of enforced disappearance and missing persons represented a strategic challenge in 2016.

Mediterranean Migration

Despite efforts by a number of organizations, including ICMP, the number of fatalities among migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean rose in 2016, thousands of trafficking victims went missing, and families in war-stricken parts of Africa and the Middle East were forced to endure additional trauma through the “ambiguous loss” of not knowing the fate of a missing loved one. Reuters reported on 9 January that dozens of Ethiopian and Somali migrants had died in the waters off Somaliland when control of their vessel was lost. Ninety-six bodies were washed ashore.  Newsweek carried a story on 16 February saying that tighter restrictions on the Greece-Macedonia border were leading to refugees slipping off the authorities’ radar. “People who…

Daily World News Digest, 31 January 2017

Reprisals feared in Myanmar

The Star Online, a news agency from Malaysia, reports today on UN Special Rappor­teur on Human Rights Yanghee Lee’s visit to Myanmar. It notes that the Korean professor is one of the few international officials to have witnessed the situation in Rakhine State in person. It says gross human rights violations that border on genocide have been going on in the state for some time. “Reports of arbitrary arrests and illegal detention have little effect on the authorities, who seem unfazed by these serious allegations, which include rape and torture,” it says.

Enforced disappearances persist in Pakistan

Dawn, a news agency from Pakistan, published an article yesterday about what it describes as a climate of impunity in Pakistan with regard to enforced disappearances. It says the authorities are not sufficiently dedicated to investigate cases of enforced disappearance and hold perpetrators accountable. It says impunity for human…

Daily World News Digest, 30 January 2017

Missing Pakistani activists return home

Arab News reported yesterday that five Pakistani bloggers and rights activists missing since the first week of January returned home early on Saturday “as mysteriously as they disappeared”. Families of the bloggers confirmed that all of them are safe. They declined to comment further. Human Rights Watch and other rights groups said their near simultaneous disappearances raised concerns of government involvement, which officials and intelligence sources have denied. Pakistan has had a history of enforced disappearances over the past decade, but this has mainly been confined to conflict zones near the Afghanistan border or to Balochistan province.

Mass grave containing remains of 27 Turkmen found near Mosul

Iraqi News reported yesterday that Iraqi troops have found a mass grave containing the remains of 27 Iraqi Turkmen in northern Mosul. “The bodies have traces of torture, and the majority of them have ID cards,” an army…

Daily World News Digest, 27 January 2017

Iraq government criticized over abduction of Sunnis near Baghdad

Middle East Monitor reported yesterday that the Iraqi prime minister has been criticized by one of Iraq’s three vice presidents for the abduction and forced disappearance of dozens of Sunni Arab civilians from their homes in the township of Tarmiyah, north of the capital Baghdad. Vice President Ayad Allawi, who also heads the Iraqi National Accord parliamentary bloc, slammed Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s government, calling on the authorities to end their silence over the abduction of around 50 men from the Sunni villages in the Tarmiyah district.

President of Malta: Dignity of children cannot be a fairy tale or simply a platitude

The Independent, a news portal from Malta, published an article yesterday on a speech delivered by the president of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, at a conference in Valletta on Lost in Migration – Working Together to protect children from…

Daily World News Digest, 26 January 2017

Missing migrants from Nepal

The Nepal Times reported yesterday on the high mortality rate among Nepali workers abroad. The Gulf countries and Malaysia have become “a black hole for hundreds of migrant workers who have vanished without trace over the years,” it says. Their families are helpless, and do not know whether their loved ones are dead or alive. The report estimates that the total number of missing migrant workers could well exceed the 1,334 who went missing during Nepal’s ten-year civil war.

At least 12 dead in Caribean migrant tragedy

The Miami Herald reported yesterday that Turks and Caicos authorities have recovered the bodies of 12 missing Haitian migrants in their waters after a search on Wednesday turned up one more body. The migrants died after a wooden sloop they were traveling on from Haiti capsized on Tuesday morning, sending dozens of migrants overboard. Eleven bodies were discovered Tuesday after authorities conducted a massive search…

Daily World News Digest, 25 January 2017

France to help Colombia in search for the missing

Prensa Latina reports today that the High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia, Sergio Jaramillo, has stressed that French help in the post-conflict period will have among its priorities the search for missing persons. He was speaking during a visit to Colombia by French President Francois Hollande. The conflict in Colombia has killed about 300,000 people, almost seven million have been displaced from their homes and at least 60,000 are missing.

Filipinos killed in drug war crammed into mass graves

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that hundreds of dead bodies lie unclaimed in mortuaries in Manila as a result of the drug war. Horrifying photos taken inside the capital’s makeshift morgue show workers and their children living among the dead and cramming bodies into mass graves as the city fails to cope with the number of victims of extrajudicial killings, the report…