Daily World News Digest, 25 October 2016

More than 2,000 migrants rescued from Mediterranean in one day

Radio New Zealand carries a story today reporting that 2,200 migrants were plucked to safety and 16 bodies were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea yesterday. A statement from the coastguard said its ships, as well as fishing boats, merchant ships and vessels from humanitarian organisations took part in 21 separate operations. More than 3100 people have gone missing or died this year while trying to use the central Mediterranean route to reach Europe by boat, the International Organization for Migration estimates. Monday’s missions rescued migrants on 18 rubber boats and three small crafts, the statement said. Last year more than one million migrants – many fleeing the civil war in Syria – arrived in Europe. An EU-Turkey pact to try to stop migrants crossing to Greece and moves by Balkan nations to close their borders have driven down the number of people using the so-called eastern Mediterranean route. http://bit.ly/2e6fbDD

Progress in the case of 43 missing Mexican students

The Bueno Aires Herald reported yesterday that Mexican officials have arrested Felipe Flores, the former police chief of the town of Iguala, about 125 miles from Mexico City, where the students were last seen in 2014. Authorities say his arrest could shed new light on how and why the students vanished — and where they might be now. The 58-year-old, who was arrested Friday while on the run, is accused of organized crime and kidnapping, according to the Associated Press. Officials believe he followed orders from the former mayor of Iguala to get rid of the students, most of whom were young men, and then tried to cover up the role of the Iguala police in the disappearance. “The investigations indicate that this person was one of the people responsible for coordinating the operation that turned into the aggression against the students,” Renato Sales, head of the National Security Commission, said at a press conference on Friday. Attorney General Arely Gómez tweeted that Flores’ arrest “will allow the collection of key testimony to clarify the facts of Iguala,” according to the AP. Authorities have arrested 131 people, including Iguala’s former mayor, José Luis Abarca, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda, in connection with the mass disappearance. Prosecutors accuse Abarca and his wife of masterminding the alleged kidnapping. The two were arrested in 2014. http://bit.ly/2eA229D

Whereabouts of Myanmar refugees unknown

The Myanmar Times reports today that two weeks after a series of deadly attacks on border guardposts in northern Rakhine State, authorities say the whereabouts of Muslim residents who fled following the assault remain unknown. International humanitarian agencies estimate that some 10,000 Muslim Rohingya residents in the majority-Muslim northern township remain displaced, without access to aid. The state government says about 3,000 Rakhine Buddhists are staying in displacement camps. But officials say the Muslim population is not unaccounted for in the aftermath of the 9 October border assault, which saw nine police officers killed. Police Major Soe Naing Aung told The Myanmar Times that missing Muslim villagers may have fled by water routes, or gone into hiding in northern Maungdaw. “We still could not track into the deep knolls because it is difficult to reach there. Therefore, we don’t know any information on where they fled,” he said. U Ye Htut, an official with the Maungdaw district administrative department, said Muslim families may also have fled in fear of their safety, despite being told they were free to remain in their homes, so long as they were not involved in the assaults. http://bit.ly/2eEPexq

Police torture cases reportedly on the rise in Kenya

The Standard reports today that one out of three Kenyans has experienced torture and ill treatment by the police in the last five years.  A report released yesterday on torture indicates that at least 30 percent of Kenyans have been victims of torture once since 2011.  “This is an increase from the last survey carried out in 2011 where one out of four Kenyans had indicated that they were tortured at one point by the police or other agencies,” according to the report released by the Independent Lego-Medico Unit (IMLU). The National Torture Prevalence Survey indicates that the police are the main perpetrators of torture at 59 percent, followed by local chiefs at 18.5 percent which is an increase from 13.5 percent in 2011. Prison warders are at 8.1 percent, the army at 3.2 percent, private guards at 2.4 percent, inmates in police cells or prisons at 2 percent, and Kenya Wildlife Service rangers at 7 percent. Additionally, the Administration Police were faulted for committing most of these acts, recording an 18 percent torture rate and the county government security officers recording 8.1 percent. http://bit.ly/2eiWCxI

Rise in human rights violations in Zimbabwe

AllAfrica carried an article on 23 October about social and civic movements in Zimbabwe that are, it says, gathering momentum despite a ban on protests affecting Harare, imposed in September. Social movements and unions such as #Tajamuka, #ThisFlag, #ThisGown, the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz), and the Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) have recently been joined by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a coalition of 18 political parties. Some protesters were detained and subjected to inhumane treatment by police after they defied the protest ban, the report says. It adds that “there has been growing concern about the targeting of those mobilizing citizens for protests through abductions and torture”. http://bit.ly/2eBFDaD

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.