Daily World News Digest, 20 April 2017

More victims as Europe debates response to migration crisis

Vice News carried a story yesterday related to 9,000 migrants saved in the Mediterranean Sea over a period of just three days last weekend. Data from the International Organization for Migration shows that more than 32,000 people have attempted to cross into Europe this year — and 650 have died or gone missing. NGOs running an increasing number of rescue missions argue that Europe should do more to help save people from drowning. Others argue that rescue operations provide a “pull” factor for migrants: some have accused charities of acting as a “taxi service” for smugglers. http://bit.ly/2pis3Qr

EU issues new guidelines on protecting migrant and refugee children

On Tuesday, the Electronic Immigration Network reported that the European Commission (EC) has issued new guidelines on protecting migrant and refugee children. EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: ‘’the number of children arriving in the EU with or without their families has increased dramatically. That is why today we are setting out a number of concrete actions to better protect, support and take care of the best interests of all children who are arriving in the European Union’’. UNICEF and UNHCR welcomed the EC’s new policy guidance, calling it an important milestone for the protection of migrant and refugee children. http://bit.ly/2pFaLtN

Austria calls for closure of Mediterranean migration route

Politico.eu reported yesterday that Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has called for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean route used by refugees seeking asylum in Western Europe. Closing the route “is the only way to end the tragic and senseless dying in the Mediterranean,” Sobotka said. Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil last February said Vienna planned to increase cooperation with 15 countries along the Balkan route to keep migrants from reaching northern Europe, claiming the EU is not adequately protecting its external borders. http://politi.co/2opmsU8

Burundi: Government “encouraging” militia call to kill opponents

On Wednesday, The Citizen, from South Africa, reported allegations that the authorities in Burundi have been “encouraging” a militia call to kill opponents. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the authorities to act promptly to stop an apparent “widespread pattern” of rallies in many places across Burundi where young men from the Imbonerakure militia – the youth wing of the ruling political party – repeatedly chant a call to impregnate or kill opponents. He said it was particularly worrying that instead of putting a stop to such events, senior government officials continue to take part in such rallies. “The Government needs to stop pretending that the Imbonerakure are nothing but a community development group. Such blatant and brazen hate speech and incitement to violence must not be tolerated, nor encouraged,” Zeid said. http://bit.ly/2oXSmdF

DR Congo: discovery of more mass graves reveals “unfolding horror”

The UN News Center reported yesterday that the between 5 and 7 April, a team of UN human rights and police officials found 17 further mass graves in the Kasai Central province of DR Congo, which was the location of clashes between security forces and the Kamuina Nsapu, a local militia. Fifteen of the recently discovered mass graves were in a cemetery in the town of Tshimbulu and two in the locality of Tshienke. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the discovery of more mass graves and reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasai area over the last nine months. Should there be no effective national investigation, Zeid said he will not hesitate to urge the international community to support an investigation by an international mechanism, including the International Criminal Court. http://bit.ly/2pie6Sn

Discovering Mexico’s mass graves

Arstechnica UK on Monday published a story about a Mexican machine learning model that analyzed data from Mexico’s 2,547 counties and predicts where clandestine graves are likely to be found. Patrick Ball, director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, mixed together data from counties with observed graves and counties where researchers were confident there were no graves, and then randomly divided the results into two groups. He used one half of the data to train a random forest algorithm, he says, then used the resulting model to see if it could predict the second half of the data. The algorithm perfectly predicted the counties that have graves and those that do not. It had no false positives and no false negatives. Alarmed at such perfect results, Ball says he repeated the experiment 500 times, each time splitting the data randomly into testing and training data. Grave hunters—forensic anthropologists, law enforcement, even church groups—scour the countryside looking for clues. Machine learning gives them one more tool to help find the disappeared. http://bit.ly/2pHBqW6

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.