Daily World News Digest, 21 April 2016

Massive loss of life reported in latest Mediterranean tragedy

UNHCR issued a statement on 20 April saying that a UNHCR team has interviewed survivors of an overcrowded boat that sank in the Mediterranean in what could be one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months. If confirmed, as many as 500 people may have lost their lives. The survivors told UNHCR staff that they had been part of a group of between 100 and 200 people who departed last week from a locality near Tobruk in Libya on a 30-metre-long boat. “After several hours at sea, the smugglers in charge of the boat attempted to transfer the passengers to a larger ship carrying hundreds of people in terribly overcrowded conditions,” UNHCR said in a statement. “At one point during the transfer, the larger boat capsized and sank.” http://bit.ly/20XgZkL

Italy begins operations to retrieve bodies of refugees from 2015 shipwreck

Deutsche Welle reported on 20 April that Rome has begun a challenging operation to retrieve the vessel and identify the refugees from a ship that sank of the Libya’s coast carrying around 800 asylum seekers. At least 400 dead migrants could be present in the hold of the vessel that rests on the sea floor 375 meters deep. Cristina Cattaneo, the head of the Labanof Labs, and her team will conduct external examinations, autopsies and collect all kinds of samples which could help identify the drowned persons. Many would not be identifiable by DNA only, Cattaneo said, adding that it would be difficult to discern “which identification strategy biologically would be the best one” to find out the victims’ origins. http://bit.ly/1YIf9SW

Pakistan: Military intensifies operation in Balochistan

The Asian Human Rights Commission issued a statement on 20 April on military operations in Balochistan since 2001, which it says are designed to secure government control over Baloch land and resources. Tortured and bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons are found daily in the province, it says, adding that a large number of people have gone missing and women and children have been harassed, according to the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons. http://bit.ly/1ScDznl

Myanmar: 21 Rohingya drown after boat capsizes, 15 missing

Independent Online, a news portal from South Africa, carried a story on 20 April saying that at least 21 Rohingya people, including nine children, drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Myanmar, a rights group confirmed on Wednesday. The boat, carrying more than 60 Rohingya, capsized due to rough seas near Sittwe Township on Tuesday. “There are conflicting reports of the precise number of people on board but local reports say that at least 15 are still missing,” said Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project which monitors Rohingya migrants. According to Lewa, the boat was travelling from an internally displaced persons camp in Pauktaw township to Sitwe to buy supplies and had received government permission to do so. http://bit.ly/243cQxp

IS fighters use football stadium as mass grave

The Mirror newspaper from the UK reported on 20 April that the bodies of dozens of women and children killed by Islamic State have been unearthed at two mass graves in a football stadium in Iraq. The discovery was made by Iraqi police officers who were led to the graves by captured Islamic State militants. They found at least 40 bodies, among them women and children and men in civilian clothes, at the 40,000 capacity Al Ramadi Stadium in the western city of Ramadi. http://bit.ly/1pjI1ot

Chad tense as members of military ‘disappear’ before election results

Deutsche Welle reported on 20 April that more than 40 members of the Chadian security forces have gone missing since presidential elections on 10 April. “My husband left the house on Friday. When he failed to return on Sunday, I went to his place of work. They said that he had been arrested because he had voted for an opposition candidate. Since then there’s been no sign of him,” one woman was quoted as saying. AFP, citing military sources, reported that the bodies of four members of the security forces have been found in the Chari River. There is no trace of the others who have disappeared, who reports say number between 47 and 60. http://bit.ly/1SU6TLn

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.