Daily World News Digest, 28 January 2016

US notes missing in Sri Lanka at UNSC Arria meeting

Colombo Gazette, a daily from Sri Lanka, reported today that the US discussed the issue of missing persons in Sri Lanka during a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on the Global Challenge of Accounting for Missing Persons. The Permanent Representative of the US to the UN, Samantha Power, spoke about her visit to Sri Lanka and the missing persons issue. She said that in recent months, she had the opportunity to visit two countries afflicted by huge numbers of missing and disappeared: Sri Lanka and Mexico. She said that relatives of victims in both Mexico and Sri Lanka spoke of how disappearances upended virtually every aspect of their lives. http://bit.ly/1ZUBLzi

Impunity follows disappearances in Mexico, says Sister Consuelo at Arria meeting

Proceso, a magazine from Mexico, carried a story on 27 January saying that recently awarded human rights activist, Sister Consuelo Morales Elizondo, condemned impunity that follows cases of disappearances in Mexico at UN Security Council. In the event organized by the United Kingdom and the ICMP Consuelo said: “In this effort, the support of the international civil society and international institutions, particularly experts as the International Commission on Missing Persons, Human Rights Watch and the OHCHR, have played a critical role.” Other participants of the event were Matthew Rycroft, British representative to the UN; Thomas Miller ICMP Commissioner; Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Giuseppina Maria Nicolini, mayor of Lampedusa, Italy, and David Tolbert, president of the International Center for Transitional Justice. http://bit.ly/1NCyHkt

Mass grave in Iraq’s Ramadi holds at least 40 Islamic State victims

Yahoo News carried a story today saying that Iraqi authorities have uncovered a mass grave in Ramadi containing at least 40 bodies, including women and children, apparently killed by Islamic State insurgents when they seized the city in May, police and provincial officials said. Officials believe the victims were the last to fight Islamic State before Ramadi fell in May 2015. Islamic State overran Ramadi last year as the Iraqi army abandoned its posts for the second time in less than a year, setting back government efforts to push back the ultra-hardline Sunni militants. Several mass graves have been uncovered in areas retaken from Islamic State. http://yhoo.it/1UsyCW5

Security Council to call for more cooperation on missing persons in Cyprus

Cyprus Mail reported on 27 January that members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) have agreed on the draft of the Resolution for the renewal of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, UNFICYP that will be adopted on Thursday. Much of the consultations among the Permanent Members of the Council involved the paragraph on the missing persons. Commending the work of the Committee on Missing Persons, highlighting the importance of intensifying its activities, noting that nearly half of all missing persons have yet to be located and around 69% have yet to be identified, the UNSC welcomes moves to allow the Committee access to 30 additional suspected burial sites in military areas in the north of Cyprus. http://bit.ly/1NCx7yR

Mexico: 13 more forcibly disappeared in Guerrero, including two kids

Telesur news portal reported on 27 January that in less than a week, 13 people, including two children and a women, were forcibly disappeared by groups of heavily armed men in the violent state of Guerrero. The increase in violence forced state officials to shut down 36 schools in the capital of Guerrero and surrounding areas. Arguably the worst case was reported in Ajuchitlan del Progreso, in the southern state of Guerrero, where two boys aged 8 and 9 were forcibly disappeared by a group of armed men. On Tuesday, six people, including one woman, were forcibly disappeared by a group of heavily armed men in the municipality of Chilpancingo, also in Guerrero in broad daylight. http://bit.ly/20ujUS4

Missing and consigned to oblivion: the tragedy of Colombia’s unmarked graves

ICRC issued a news on 27 January saying that in Colombia there are registers listing some 78,000 missing persons. Many are buried in unmarked graves (bearing the letters ‘NN’) in hundreds of Colombia’s cemeteries. “This is a terrible dilemma,” said Udo Krenzer, the ICRC’s forensic coordinator for South America. These people went missing and now their unidentified remains are disappearing all over again because they weren’t buried properly in the cemeteries.” In 2014, the Ministry of the Interior set up a project to search for unidentified people in cemeteries. So far, remains of 7,600 people who were never identified or were identified but never claimed by their families were found. There are many challenges to establishing the identity of these people. http://bit.ly/23vn8qL

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.