Daily World News Digest, 3 April 2017

Aid groups cut death toll from migrant shipwreck off Libya

On 31 March, Reuters reported that five migrants were believed to have died when a rubber boat sank off the coast of Libya last week, and not hundreds as originally feared. Probably still in shock after he was taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa, a 16-year-old Gambian boy told humanitarian workers on Wednesday he was the only survivor of the wreck, but when 140 others disembarked at a different port on Thursday, several identified the boy as having been on the same boat. Some 650 migrants are estimated to have died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, and arrivals in Italy are up about 30 percent from the same period last year. http://reut.rs/2oPgEn1

Search for missing in Colombia after mudslides

CNN reports today on rescue efforts following Saturday’s devastating mudslides in southern Colombia. Hundreds are reported dead after torrential rains Friday night caused three rivers surrounding Mocoa, in Putumayo province, to overflow — sending a torrent of mud surging through the city. President Juan Manuel Santos has declared a state of emergency. Santos put the death toll at 254 but told reporters at the scene that the number could climb. The Red Cross said 158 people were missing. Santos said 43 children were among the dead, and 22 more were hospitalized. Several children have been reunited with their parents; many children are in shelters, he said. “There are still many missing people. We don’t know where they are. That’s why the system is still trying to locate them and will continue to do so until we find the last person.” http://cnn.it/2osnYsi

Enforced disappearances in Egypt unlikely to be discussed in Washington talks

The Washington Post reported on 2 April on today’s visit to Washington by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. It notes that President Sisi and US President Donald Trump are unlikely to discuss the case of Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian American humanitarian worker who has been incarcerated by the Egyptian regime for nearly three years, accused of abusing children she was seeking to help through her nonprofit organization. The paper notes that these charges are widely viewed as false and adds that “under Sissi, repression has been widespread. Egypt’s security forces have jailed tens of thousands and committed human rights abuses, including the torture and forced disappearances of critics and opponents.” It adds that “Hijazi has become a symbol of the sharp shift in US policy by the Trump administration toward Sissi, placing security cooperation over human right concerns as the main barometer for engagement with authoritarian leaders.” http://wapo.st/2oqusri

Zimbabwe: work at mass graves begins

The Chronicle, from Zimbabwe, released an article today saying that the government in Zimbabwe has started issuing birth certificates to families of victims of the post-independence disturbances as well as constructing monuments at mass graves of those who died during the “Gukurahundi” campaign against those designated as opponents of the government in the 1980s. Vice-President Phelekezela mphoko said that those buried in shallow graves will be exhumed and given decent burials. He said this program is part of the national healing and reconciliation process. http://bit.ly/2ozCueR

Italy brokers migration deal with Libyan tribes

Euractiv reports today that the Italian government said on Sunday that dozens of rival tribes in southern Libya have agreed to cooperate on securing the country’s borders in an effort to curb the influx of migrants trying to reach Europe. Italy’s interior ministry said the 60 tribal leaders – notably the Tuareg of the southwest, the Toubou of the southeast, and the Arab tribe of Awlad Suleiman – had reached a 12-point deal after 72 hours of secret talks in Rome. The deal aims to combat “an economy based on illicit drugs, which causes hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean, thousands of desperate people looking for a better life, a populist push (in Europe) and a jihadist threat in the desert”. http://bit.ly/2nz0ZaZ

Crimean Tatars Mejlis suing Russia in ECHR

On 1 April, The Kyiv Post reported that the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people on 29 March filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) because the Russian authorities included it in the list of extremist organizations and banned its activities. Human rights defenders have documented 18 enforced disappearances of Crimean Tatars, which have not been investigated yet, according to the report. The bodies of several activists were found with traces of beatings and torture. http://bit.ly/2orXirj

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.