Daily World News Digest, 16 February 2016

Counting the missing migrants

The Wall Street Journal reported on 15 February that last year the International Organization for Migration tallied a record number of 5,350 migrants reported missing or dead on the world’s many migratory routes. The real figure is probably much higher because many migrant deaths are never recorded. ICMP and IOM have joined forces to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the missing migrant and refugee situation in the Mediterranean region. IOM and ICMP propose to deploy ICMP’s Identification Database Management System to process missing persons data systematically. Dual objective is to reinforce the capacity of countries of arrival to meet their mandatory obligations to families of the missing, and to repatriate the remains of the missing to countries of origin. http://on.wsj.com/1Qj5xbC

Spain: Victim’s daughter case opens the past

The BBC carried a story on 15 February saying that Ascension Mendieta had to wait more than 76 years and travel to Argentina in search of justice. Volunteers removed the skeleton of her father she barely remembers from a mass grave at the edge of the main cemetery in Guadalajara, central Spain, late last month. Now, campaigners want more help for relatives of the more than 100,000 still-missing victims from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The search for remains of Ascension’s father, Timoteo Mendieta was the first exhumation ordered by a Spanish court as part of a criminal investigation. For Paco Ferrandiz, an anthropologist at Spain’s CSIC national science council who witnessed the exhumation, state institutions have obstructed all attempts to investigate the Franco era. http://bbc.in/1St1DTZ

Sri Lanka: Missing Persons Commission term extended

The Nation, a weekly from Sri Lanka, reported today that the term of the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons has been extended by three months. Secretary to the Commission, Hewa Wasalage Gunadasa, said that the fresh mandate was effective from 15 February. The commission was appointed to investigate the complaints on the missing persons in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka which were affected by war. The Commission led by Chairman of the Commission, retired High Court Judge Maxwell Parakrama Paranagama has already put out its main report. http://bit.ly/246K6oF

Syria: Eight staff missing after bombing of MSF-backed hospital

The Week, a magazine from the UK, reported on 15 February that a Medecins Sans Frontieres-backed hospital in Syria has been razed to the ground in an air strike this morning. Four rockets struck the facility in Maarat al-Numan, a rebel-held town in the north-west of the country. Eight members of staff are missing and nine people were reported to have been killed. In a statement, Medecins Sans Frontieres condemned what it termed a “deliberate” strike on the hospital, but did not identify the provenance of the attack. Massimiliano Rebaudengo, Medecins Sans Frontieres’s head of mission in Syria, said this attack left 40,000 people without access to healthcare in an area torn apart by violent conflict. http://bit.ly/1Qj1n3A

Egypt’s Interior Ministry denies it arrested Italian student before his death

All Africa news portal reported on 15 February that Egypt’s interior ministry denied reports that security personnel arrested Italian student Giulio Regeni before he was found dead on the outskirts of Cairo, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. Regeni, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student who was a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo, disappeared on 25 January. Ten days later, his body was found in a ditch along the side of the Cairo-Alexandria desert road. Some witnesses say Regeni was stopped by plainclothes security officers on the evening he disappeared. Local and international human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern about an increase in reported cases of “enforced disappearance” and torture in Egypt. http://bit.ly/1Lr0l4q

Mexico: Reporting from the kingdom of fear

AFP carried a story on 15 February about dangerous life in Sinaloa State in Mexico and cenotaphs – empty tombs or monuments erected in honor of a person who is buried elsewhere. There are many cenotaphs in Culiacan and most of them were erected for youth who were killed in drug-related violence. In a small parking lot in front of the state prosecutor’s office, two refrigerated trucks are parked holding human remains wrapped in white sheets. Two forensic doctors are in the middle of performing autopsies on the bodies laid out on the trucks’ backdoors, right out in the open air. http://bit.ly/1PN6z0m

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.