Where are The Missing?

Major migrations, war, political instability and organized crime all contribute to persons going missing. Efforts to advance the rule of law, and technological progress especially in the fields of informatics and the forensic sciences have given investigators powerful tools to locate the missing, often under difficult conditions and after a substantial passage of time. The experience of ICMP shows that effective assistance can be deployed quickly and efficiently anywhere in the world to address missing persons issues.

This section will seek to examine where persons are missing in the world, the circumstances of their disappearance and what, if anything is being done to address the issue in a given context.

In this section

Brazil

Human rights violations occurred under Brazil’s military dictatorship between April 1964 and March 1985. A 1979 amnesty law protected perpetrators of political crimes committed for and against the regime. In February 2018, the first identification was announced as part of a multidisciplinary effort to identify opponents of the regime who had been interred in a […]

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East Timor

East Timor (Timor-Leste) was occupied by Indonesian forces just days after declaring independence from Portugal in November 1975. Over the next 25 years, human rights violations were widespread. In 1999 an overwhelming majority of the population voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-supervised referendum. In the weeks that followed, anti-independence militia supported by the […]

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Lebanon

As many as 17,400 people are estimated to have gone missing during the civil conflict in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990. Civil society has been persistent in keeping the missing persons issue in public view. NGOs have called on the authorities to launch a sustained and comprehensive process of accounting for the missing. Lebanon has […]

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Afghanistan

Since 1979 Afghanistan has been in a state of conflict that has left hundreds of thousands missing or displaced. The Soviet intervention in 1979 to support a pro-communist regime led to a decade-long war with guerrilla mujahideen, supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Following the Soviet withdrawal civil war continued, and in […]

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Albania

As many as 6,000 people are believed to have gone missing between 1945 and 1991 during the period of authoritarian rule. Little progress has been made in locating gravesites and identifying the missing. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Albania, click here.

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Algeria

To prevent an Islamist government from assuming power, the authorities of Algeria cancelled elections on 11 January 1992. The number of people who disappeared during the ensuing civil insurgency in Algeria in the decade after 1992 ranges from at least 7,000, according to Human Rights Watch, to 18,000, according to an academic study published in […]

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Argentina

Military rule in Argentina from 1976-1983 was marked by the enforced disappearance of those who opposed the regime. Between 15,000 and 30,000 opponents of the regime are believed to have died. As many as 500 children born in prisons and concentration camps were taken from their mothers at birth and illegally given for adoption. Raúl […]

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Bahrain

In early 2011, at the start of the Arab Spring, demonstrations in Bahrain were broken up by the police and army. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, established by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in July 2011 to look into the disturbances, published a 500-page report in November 2011 that found that there were […]

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Around 70% of the more than 30,000 people reported missing at the end of the 1992-95 conflict have been located and the bodies identified. Efforts continue to locate and identify the remaining missing persons. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Bosnia and Herzegovina, click here.

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Burundi

Burundi is a small, landlocked east-central African country. One of the five poorest nations in the world, it is densely populated, with between eight and nine million inhabitants. Languages spoken include Kirundi, French and Swahili. Life expectancy is 43 years; only 52% of the population is literate, and GDP per capita is about $500. Agriculture […]

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Cambodia

Under Khmer Rouge rule, from 1975 to 1979, Cambodia’s urban population was forcibly moved into the countryside as part of enforcing agricultural reform policies. Many died from exhaustion, disease or starvation. Many were tortured and executed. The total death toll during the Khmer Rouge regime is reported to have been at least 1.7 million. Violent […]

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Cameroon

Cameroonian authorities sought international assistance to identify some of the 114 passengers and crew killed in a May 2007 airplane crash. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Cameroon, click here.

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Canada

More than 40 people died in a train crash in Quebec in 2013. A small number were identified using DNA profiling. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Canada, click here.

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Chad

The central African state of Chad emerged from three decades of civil war in 1990 with the overthrow of President Hissène Habré by Libyan-backed Idriss Déby. The country was placed at the top of the Fund for Peace 2014 “high alert” ranking of fragile (failed) states, and sixth in the organization’s overall ranking of states […]

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Chechnya

The Chechen government declared independence from the Russian Federation following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then there have been two wars between Chechen separatists and Russian forces (The First Chechen War, 1994-1996, and the Second Chechen War, 1999-2009) and continuous unrest. Around 25,000 people have been killed since 1999. The human […]

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Chile

In February 1991, the Chilean National Commission for Truth and Reconciliationreleased a report detailing human rights abuses resulting in deaths and disappearances during the years of military rule. According to the report, 2,296 people were murdered during the 17-year period. Subsequent estimates have put the number of missing as high as 3,400. Addressing the issue […]

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Colombia

Almost 70,000 people have been reported missing in more than four decades of conflict. A broad legislative and government effort in conjunction with active civil society organizations is seeking to address the issue as part of the country’s effort to consolidate peace. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Colombia, click here.

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Cuba

Cuban authorities employed a range of identification methods, including DNA analysis, after a 2010 airplane crash in the center of the country killed 68 passengers and crew. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Cuba, click here.

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Cyprus

Around 2,000 people were reported missing in Cyprus as a result of unrest during the 1960s and the events of 1974. A Committee on Missing Persons was established in 1981 and continues to coordinate efforts to locate and identify the missing. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Cyprus, click here.

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Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has struggled with political and social instability since independence from Belgium in 1960. From 1998 onward it was the epicenter of a conflict dubbed Africa’s World War, which involved nine countries, killed an estimated 5.4 million people and left hundreds of thousands of missing. By June 2012 UNICEF estimated […]

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Denmark

Denmark’s contingency plans to identify persons missing in the event of disasters, acts of terrorism or other causes includes a cooperative agreement with ICMP. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Demark, click here.

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Egypt

The events of January and February 2011, when President Hosni Mubarak resigned, were accompanied by a rise in the number of enforced disappearances. During the 2011 revolution, 1,200 persons were reported missing. In January 2013 a committee set up by President Mohamed Morsi to investigate the 2011 events presented an 800-page report detailing a series […]

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El Salvador

As many as 9,000 people may have gone missing during the 1980-92 conflict in El Salvador. While an amnesty law has ensured that few individuals have been punished for their role in enforced disappearances, efforts to locate and identify the missing are a significant element in the post-conflict process of national reconciliation. For more information […]

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Ethiopia

After Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed following an army mutiny in 1974, Ethiopia was ruled for a decade and a half by a communist military junta, the Derg, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam. The period was characterized by repression, war and famine. Estimates put the total number of casualties at between 500,000 and two million. […]

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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The crisis in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which began in February 2001 and ended with the Ohrid Agreement of August 2001, resulted in 22 known cases of disappearances and possibly in tens more cases. For more information on how ICMP has assisted FYROM, click here.

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Greece

The authorities in Athens sought ICMP’s assistance in genetic profiling of two sets of bones in 2013. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Greece, click here.

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Guatemala

With a population of 15,806,675, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America. It was in a state of civil war from 1960 to 1996. Today, as many as 70% of the population live in poverty. Spanish is the official language, though it is the second language spoken by many of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples, […]

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Guinea

Guinea voted for independence from France, under the leadership of Sekou Toure on 2 October 1958. President Toure remained in power until his death in 1984, when he was succeeded by Lansana Conte in a bloodless coup.  Immediately after Conte’s death in 2008, military officers installed Captain Moussa Dadis Camara as president and promised to […]

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Haiti

More than 300,000 people died in Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and a large proportion of victims were buried in mass graves with little or no effort to identify remains. Haiti lacks the technical capacity and basic resources to support a program of Disaster Victim Identification. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Haiti, click here.

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India / Pakistan (Kashmir and Jammu)

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Jammu and Kashmir since 1947. In response to a separatist insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir that intensified in the late 1980s, the New Delhi authorities have deployed half a million troops, implementing a military counter-insurgency strategy. The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and the Jammu and […]

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Iraq

Estimates run from a quarter of a million to one million people missing in Iraq from decades of conflict and human rights abuses. Despite continuing unrest in the country, legislative, government and civil society initiatives have been launched as part of a comprehensive effort to address this issue. For more information on how ICMP has […]

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Kenya

Kenyan authorities sought international assistance in September 2013 to identify some of the 67 people killed in an armed attack on a Nairobi shopping mall. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Kenya, click here.

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Kosovo

By the end of the Kosovo conflict in June 1999, it was estimated that 4,400 to 4,500 persons were missing. Today, about 1,700 remain unaccounted for. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Kosovo, click here.

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Kuwait

The number of persons reported to have disappeared during and after the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990-91 is estimated from 1,000 upwards. Hundreds are still unaccounted for. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Kuwait, click here.

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Kyrgyzstan

A mountainous and predominantly agricultural country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest of the former Soviet states: just over a third of the population live in poverty. Kyrgyzstan’s first two post-Soviet presidents were removed from office in the face of popular discontent, in 2005 and 2010, amid allegations of corruption and curtailment […]

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Libya

There are estimated to be up to 10,000 persons missing in Libya. This number includes persons missing as a result of the 2011 conflict, as well as those who went missing during Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule. Efforts to address the missing persons issue have been hampered by unrest and by disputes among government agencies over […]

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Mexico

More than 26,000 persons are estimated to have disappeared in Mexico in the last decade, largely in connection with the war on drugs. The issue of the missing is at the heart of a national debate over democratic accountability, the rule of law and the prospects for a return to social peace and cohesion.   […]

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Montenegro

More than 80 people were reported missing in Montenegro as a result of the violence that accompanied the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Of these, 11 have been identified. The Montenegrin Commission on Missing Persons is engaged in resolving outstanding cases.   For more information on how ICMP has assisted Montenegro, click here.

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Morocco

From 1975 Moroccan security forces and Polisario guerrillas fought a 16-year war for control of Western Sahara. Forced population displacement and an accompanying rise in the number of missing persons has been part of the conflict’s continuing legacy. A report issued by the US State Department’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in 2001 […]

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Nagorno-Karabkh

Nagorno-Karabakh is a region in the South Caucasus governed by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, an unrecognized state, established by referendum in 1991. The population then was 76% Armenian and 23% Azeri. Internationally the region is recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The resulting war between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan caused thousands of casualties on both sides. Approximately 5,000 […]

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Namibia

The Namibian authorities sought international assistance to identify some of the 33 passengers and crew who were killed in a November 2013 air crash. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Namibia, click here.

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Nepal

Around 30 people are believed to have been subject to enforced disappearance in Nepal between 1960 and 1989. This number increased exponentially during the ten-year conflict between Maoist guerrillas and the government in Kathmandu. More than 10,000 people died in the 1996-2006 war and more than 1,300 were reported as missing. Under the terms of […]

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North Caucasus

Violence in the North Caucasus has continued since the 1990s. The First Chechen War (1994-96) and the Second Chechen war (1999-2009) witnessed massive loss of life and destruction to property, but in Chechnya and neighboring states, even in the absence of open warfare, long-term insurgencies have resulted in widespread human rights abuses and substantial numbers […]

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Norway

As part of an effort to address a difficult chapter in the country’s past and to uphold the right of citizens to know the truth about the fate of missing relatives, DNA technology was used in 2008 to resolve the fate of Norwegians who fought alongside German forces during World War Two. For more information […]

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Peru

Peru is a republic with a population of around 30 million on the western coast of South America. It was rocked by violence during the presidencies of Fernando Belaunde (1980-85), Alan Garcia (1985-90) and Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), when insurgency groups, including Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, fought the Peruvian armed forces. The […]

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Republic of Croatia

Approximately 1,800 missing persons have yet to be located and identified in Croatia following the 1991-95 conflict. Unresolved cases have been a disincentive to refugee return, and the authorities in Croatia have called for greater regional cooperation to resolve outstanding cases throughout the former Yugoslavia. For more information on how ICMP has assisted the Republic […]

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Republic of Serbia

The remains of more than 1,000 persons who went missing during the 1991-95 conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo have been located and identified in Serbia. The authorities in Belgrade continue to coordinate efforts to locate and identify citizens of Serbia who went missing in neighboring countries during the conflicts […]

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Rwanda

A 1959 revolt in Rwanda led to killings of Tutsi, with over 100,000 fleeing the country. The Tutsi monarchy was abolished by referendum in 1961 and in 1962 the country gained independence from Belgium. Years of violent conflict and killing followed. Tensions peaked in April 1994, when the shooting down of a plane carrying the […]

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South Africa

As many as 2,000 people are reported to have gone missing during the apartheid era. Resolving the fate of the disappeared has been seen as a key element in the Truth and Reconciliation process. For more information on how ICMP has assisted the South African Republic, click here.

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South Ossetia and Abkhazia

In Georgia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 separatist pressure increased in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which had enjoyed a measure of autonomy within Georgia during the Soviet era. Changes of government in Georgia, together with a failure to resolve the status of non-Georgians in the two regions, led […]

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South Sudan

With a population of around eight million, South Sudan became independent in July 2011 following a referendum. After decades of conflict in which more than two million people are believed to have died and in which tens of thousands of women and children were reported to have been taken into slavery, the country faces enormous […]

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Spain

In 1977, immediately after the democratic elections that followed the death of General Franco, Spain’s parliament enacted an Amnesty Law lifting sanctions against opponents of the dictatorship and at the same time shielding officials of the regime from prosecution for human rights violations. The “Pact of Forgetting,” one of the pillars of the Transition to […]

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Sri Lanka

After the outbreak of fighting in 1983 between the Sinhalese-led government in Colombo and a variety of armed Tamil separatist movements that were eventually absorbed into the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the population of Sri Lanka were subject to systematic human rights abuses. The period immediately before and after the LTTE defeat by […]

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Sudan

Since independence from Britain in 1956 Sudan has experienced continuing social and political unrest arising from the competing demands of different linguistic and cultural groups and ideological divisions between Left and Right. Conflict between North and South Sudan, from the 1950s until 1972 and then again from 1983 until 2005, resulted in the deaths of […]

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Syria

It is estimated that at least 60,000 persons have gone missing in Syria since the beginning of the civil war. As many as 17,000 are believed to have gone missing as a result of government repression before the beginning of the conflict. A large number of international and domestic organizations are working to address this issue. […]

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Tajikistan

A mountainous former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan is Central Asia’s poorest nation. The country descended into civil war soon after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The five-year conflict between the Moscow-backed government and the Islamist-led opposition claimed the lives of between 50,000 and 100,000 people and caused at […]

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Thailand

The authorities in Thailand sought international assistance to identify 8,000 victims of the 2004 Tsunami. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Thailand, click here.

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The Maldives

Approximately 100 Maldivians died, and a large number were reported missing following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. For more information on how ICMP has assisted The Maldives, click here.  

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The Philippines

Authorities in the Philippines sought international assistance in the wake of powerful storms that left thousands dead and missing, notably Typhoon Frank in 2008 and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. For more information on how ICMP has assisted The Philippines, click here.

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Tunisia

Following the popular uprising in Tunisia that began in December 2010 and saw protests against corruption, poverty, and political repression, culminating in the ousting of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, Tunisia went through a difficult political transition that resulted in the formation of a democratically elected government under the new Constitution, which […]

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Turkey

The substantial number of missing persons cases reported by human rights groups in Turkey have been viewed as an obstacle to finding a political settlement to separatist disputes and may be seen as a challenge to the full implementation of the rule of law. For more information on how ICMP has assisted Turkey, click here.

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Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a Central Asian state bordering the Caspian Sea between Iran and Kazakhstan. Despite large natural gas reserves, 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The country is the most ethnically homogeneous of the Central Asian republics and, in contrast to other former Soviet states, has been largely free of inter-ethnic […]

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Uganda

As a consequence of the 1986-2006 conflict between government forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), it has been estimated that some 75,000 persons were abducted in northern Uganda. The fate of thousands of these people remains unknown. The conflict began as a rebellion of the Ugandan People’s Democratic Army (UPDA), a group of army […]

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Ukraine

Since the spring of 2014 when conflict broke out in Eastern Ukraine, thousands are believed to have gone missing as a result of refugee flight, fighting, reprisals and abductions. In addition, the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Eastern Ukraine in July 2014 resulted in the death of 298 passengers and crew. Efforts to […]

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United States of America

The large numbers of killed and injured as a result of the World Trade Center attacks of 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 highlighted the challenges of locating and identifying the missing, even in a society with extensive administrative and financial resources. For more information on how ICMP has assisted the United States of America, […]

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, borders Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In May 2005, hundreds of largely peaceful protesters were killed by government forces in the town of Andijan in the very east of Uzbekistan. In the immediate aftermath of the violence as many as 3,000 people were reported missing. No one has been held accountable for the […]

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Vietnam

The Hanoi Government estimates that more than 1.1 million North Vietnamese Army personnel and Viet Cong (pro-communist South Vietnamese irregulars) were killed or went missing in the 30 years of fighting before 1975. Around 300,000 are still missing. In addition, between 50,000 and 65,000 North Vietnamese civilians and between 195,000 and 430,000 South Vietnamese civilians […]

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