Daily World News Digest, 24 June 2015

IOM: displacement in Iraq passes 3 million

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) carried a story on 23 June announcing that its latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has identified 3,087,372 internally displaced persons (514,562 families) in Iraq from January 2014 through 4 June 2015. The displaced are dispersed across all of Iraq’s 18 governorates. In the months since the beginning of hostilities in Ramadi, Anbar, on 8 April 2015 through 15 June, over 276,330 Iraqis are reported to have been displaced from the city and its outskirts. Of this population, 55 percent were displaced after 15 May when Ramadi city center was entirely occupied by armed groups. Most of the IDPs are displaced to Baghdad governorate (45 percent) or within Anbar governorate (35 percent). http://bit.ly/1HbCczE

UN Chief: saving migrants’ lives must be top priority

Voice of America reported on 23 June that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on European parliamentarians to advocate for the protection of people who risk their lives to escape conflicts, persecution and poverty. Addressing the 47-nation Council of Europe Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, Ban expressed alarm at “the plight of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, especially in the Mediterranean and Andaman Seas, as well as the Bay of Bengal.” “I call on you to advocate for the protection and rights of people who flee conflict, persecution, entrenched poverty or lack of access to decent work,” said Ban. “We have a responsibility, a common responsibility to act before more lives are lost. That is why Europe needs safer, regular and orderly channels for migration and mobility.” According to statistics from the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, about 1,800 migrants have vanished in the Mediterranean Sea this year. Some 51,000 have reached Europe by sea, 30,500 of them via Italy. http://bit.ly/1FzXVMi

Hungary suspends key EU asylum rule

The BBC reports today that Hungary has suspended a key EU rule that says it must take back asylum seekers who first enter Hungary but travel on to other countries. A government spokesman said the decision had been made because Hungary is overburdened by illegal immigration. The announcement comes just days after Hungary announced a plan to erect a border fence against migrants. Hungarian officials say that more than 60,000 people have entered the country illegally this year. Hungary’s government has suspended a core principle for handling asylum claims in the EU called the Dublin Regulation. It says that the responsibility for examining an asylum seeker’s claims usually lies with the first EU country that the migrant reaches. If the migrant travels to a second EU nation, they can be sent back to the entry country to have their asylum claim processed. In January to March 2015, Hungary had 32,810 new asylum applicants, the second-highest number of applicants in the EU after Germany. http://bbc.in/1QODbMK

99 Percent of missing persons in Mexico stay missing

teleSUR reported on 23 June that Mexican officials have managed to find only one percent of some 27,000 people who have been disappeared in the country. Over the last two years, according to a recent report by the Daily Post. Figures from the Special Unit for the Search for Disappeared Persons, which was created by the Office of the Attorney General, show that Mexican law enforcement managed to locate 112 disappeared people over the last two years. Only 77 of them were found alive. In the same time period, the National Register of Missing and Disappeared Persons documented 26,928 missing people (this number does not include the found 112 people). http://bit.ly/1FyswtI

South Africa: investigators to exhume bodies from mass grave

allAfrica carried a story on 23 June saying that South African police have confirmed that an operation to exhume bodies believed to be buried in a mass grave at a former prison labour camp on a South Coast farm began on 22 June. Police are reported to have dispatched a Search and Rescue team with excavation gear and four sniffer dogs, while several officials from various government agencies were also on site. The Missing Persons Task Team was established in the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU) in the NPA in 2004. The task team conducts investigations into cases of persons who disappeared in political circumstances between 1 March 1960 and 10 May 1994. The existence of the graves on a sugar plantation called Glenroy Farm in the Dududu area just outside Amanzintoti was first announced in March by the Office of the Premier. http://bit.ly/1IcIUq3

EU cannot ignore dire human rights situation in Balochistan

The Parliament website, which covers the EU Parliament, reported on 23 June on the plight of the people of Balochistan in Pakistan, whom it said are being systematically targeted by paramilitary groups, allegedly sponsored by the Pakistani authorities. Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are the most common practices. In an 8 December 2005 statement, the then Pakistani interior minister Aftab Sherpao said that 4,000 Baloch were in the custody of the authorities. The figures of those killed after abduction collated from newspaper reports exceed 2,000, with the Baloch themselves saying the number of people missing is more than 20,000. Mass graves were discovered in Tutak in January 2014 and, despite the fact that an investigative committee was formed, no one has yet been prosecuted for these crimes. At the same time many atrocities are currently being committed in Balochistan by security forces. The recent visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Pakistan and his promise to pump €40bn into projects in the Gwadar-Kashgar energy corridor could, according to the local population, endanger the lives of the people of Balochistan and the protection of their fundamental freedoms. http://bit.ly/1eFAITX

Serbia slams ‘destabilising’ UN Srebrenica resolution

Balkan Insight reported on 24 June that the Serbian authorities have written to the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, saying that a proposed UK resolution condemning the Srebrenica genocide would cause destabilization in the region. Serbia said in the letter that it believes the proposed resolution will raise ethnic tensions and do nothing to help reconciliation, state news agency Tanjug reported on Monday evening. http://bit.ly/1GxNxoW

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.