Daily World News Digest, 17 November 2016

Mediterranean: 2016 death toll passes 4,500

Yahoo7News reported yesterday that at least 240 refugees had died in 48 hours of boat disasters in the Mediterranean as asylum seekers continue desperate attempts to reach Europe in worsening weather. Only 15 people survived one sinking off the coast of Libya on Monday, telling rescuers around 135 people who had been packed into their rubber dinghy drowned. At least 95 others died in a second disaster on Tuesday, with just nine bodies recovered from the water so far, pushing the death toll for 2016 over 4,500. The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), a rescue charity, said efforts in the Mediterranean were becoming more challenging than ever, with humanitarian efforts overwhelmed by the changing tactics of smuggling networks. The group said gangs appeared to be “industrializing” to meet demand as conflict and lawlessness continue in Libya, where asylum seekers report being detained, extorted and tortured before they are forced on to overcrowded boats. http://ind.pn/2ghvm6B

Tribute to Lebanese missing persons activist

Amnesty International issued a statement yesterday on the death of Ghazi Aad, founder of Support of the human rights organization, Lebanese in Detention and Exile (SOLIDE). Aad, who had been in a coma, died yesterday morning. Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional office, Lynn Maalouf, said: “For three decades Ghazi Aad dedicated his life to campaigning tirelessly to seek truth, justice and reparation on behalf of victims of abductions and enforced disappearance and their families. His death is a tragic loss. He was at the forefront of a long struggle for national recognition of the right of families of those who were forcibly disappeared or otherwise went missing to know the fate of their loved ones and he played an instrumental role in pushing for progress on this issue. In the face of the government’s consistent failure to recognize the existence of the disappeared, Ghazi Aad persisted in demanding the authorities assume their responsibility to investigate and reveal the truth about the fate of those missing.” Thousands of people disappeared during the Lebanese conflict between 1975 and 1990. SOLIDE, set up in 1989, was among the first to highlight the alarming trend of abductions.  http://bit.ly/2fGzdG8

Three journalists arrested in Gambia ahead of election

The Guardian carried an article yesterday on the director-general of Gambia’s state TV and radio broadcaster, Momodou Sabally, who was dismissed last week and immediately arrested by the security services on unspecified charges. Soon after this, a reporter with the same broadcaster, Bakary Fatty, was detained by members of the national intelligence agency.  These arrests were followed by a third. Alhagie Manka, a documentary maker, TV director and photojournalist, was taken into custody after taking photographs of a presidential motorcade. All three have yet to appear in court, which is said by Human Rights Watch to be a violation of Gambian law. http://bit.ly/2fjs9OU

Pakistan: Missing persons’ families reject government’s compensation offer

The News International, a newspaper from Pakistan, reports today that the Sindh task force for missing persons on Wednesday stated that it is unable to locate missing persons from Karachi and suggested that families should accept financial compensation from the provincial government – an offer rejected by most families. The task force was reviewing cases sent to it by the Missing Persons Commission, related to the period from 1992 to 2015. Families of the missing had been invited to come and receive information about cases and were then made to wait for hours before the meeting started, the paper reported. http://bit.ly/2fz7s4N

“Helplessness” in Mexico in the face of organized crime

Opendemocracy.net published an interview yesterday with Professor Sergio Aguayo, from the Colegio de México and Stanford University, who said that “from sheer helplessness” Mexicans are try to cope with collusion between organized crime and law enforcement and political circles “which, instead of guaranteeing the security of citizens, fluctuate between complicity, brazen connivance and indifference to the suffering of the victims”. Aguayo participated recently in an international seminar organized by the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, under the title of “From disorder to order: conflict and legitimacy resources in contexts of conflict, expansive violence or other forms of disorder.” http://bit.ly/2f32PM8

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.