Daily World News Digest, 22 March 2017

Iraqi authorities urged to protect mass grave

Human Rights Watch released a statement yesterday saying that he Iraqi authorities must make it a priority to protect a mass grave of Da’esh victims that has been discovered at the Khafsa sinkhole about eight kilometers south of western Mosul. Local residents said that Da’esh laid improvised landmines at the site. Human Rights watch said Iraqi authorities should make it a priority to mark and fence the site until it can be demined. Iraqi forces and medical experts from Baghdad have been exhuming bodies there. Fawaz Abdulameer of the International Committee for Missing Persons said “These excavations are unacceptable. They must be carried out by trained teams with sufficient experience, because they are dealing with human remains at a crime scene.” This is the second report of  ad hoc and unprofessional exhumations taking place without authorization. http://bit.ly/2nclv3D

Democratic Republic of Congo families demand exhumation of mass grave

CajnewsAfrica reported yesterday that families of more than 400 victims reportedly killed and buried two years ago in a mass grave by forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west of the country are demanding the exhumation of the bodies and an investigation into the killings. The victims were secretly buried in the night of 18-19 March on the edge of a cemetery near the capital, Kinshasa. Ida Sawyer, Human Rights Watch director for Central Africa, said Congolese authorities must give victims’ families the answers and the justice they deserve. With the help of international forensics experts, authorities should exhume the dead in Maluku and reveal their identities. Government insists the burial of the 421 bodies was “normal procedure” and these included relatives of poor families who could not afford burial, unidentified bodies and stillborn babies. http://bit.ly/2nAgNOb

More than 6,000 migrants rescued in Mediterranean

The Washington Post reported yesterday that more than 6,000 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea in the last few days. The surging figures suggest that growing numbers of migrants, refugees and others are trying to make the sea passage to Europe as the weather warms and smugglers increase operations. This increase since late last week suggests even greater migrant traffic ahead, said Joel Millman, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration. The consistent flows are a sign that the deals European leaders have signed with African nations to try to restrict migration have not had a significant effect. http://wapo.st/2mrFmNm

Network assistance for refugees

Cisco Systems, the technology company, published a blog yesterday describing its efforts to respond to the global refugee crisis. Cisco’s engineers and volunteers have installed Wi-Fi networks across 75 sites in Greece and Slovenia and provided technical support and equipment for installations in Serbia. The networks have connected over 600,000 unique devices, allowing refugees to reach more than two million friends and family members through high-speed Internet connections. Cisco has also provided $350,000 to Mercy Corps to support the development and scaling of a mobile-enabled Refugee Information Hub. The hub provides refugees with critical information such as legal options and instructions on seeking asylum, safety information, and available social services. http://bit.ly/2nc7cMm

 Call for faster transitional justice steps in Sri Lanka

EIN Presswire carried a statement on Sri Lanka yesterday by Steven J Rapp, the former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, in which he expressed disappointment that “commitments that were undertaken in September 2015 by the government have not been kept and the whole matter has moved entirely too slowly, and particularly, that the report of the Consultative Task Force that represented 7300 consultations across the country was rejected by some government actors.” He called for “the establishment of the prosecutor’s office now . . . a hybrid institution that should have internationals and nationals aboard.” http://bit.ly/2ms6Xy2

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.