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South Sudan: more than 4,000 people missing in ongoing conflict

Civilians hiding in the jungle as they flee gunshots in an undisclosed locaion in South Sudan (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

August 30th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – As the world marks the International Day of Missing Persons today, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that, it is still monitoring and tracking more than 4,000 cases of missing persons who have lost contact with their loved ones since the outbreak of conflict in 2013.

In a new press release issued earlier today, the ICRC said most of those missing persons had lost contact with their parents while trying to flee violence to safety.

“Each of these cases represents a family who is searching and living with the agony of not knowing what happened to their loved one,” said James Reynolds, ICRC’s Head of Delegation in South Sudan.

“Some of these families haven’t heard from their relatives for years and can’t move on. They wait for a husband, a son, a sister and suffer social, economic and psychological consequences,” he added.

According to the ICRC about 451 missing persons were documented in 2019 alone, bringing the total caseload to 4,225 people.

The ICRC further said that, the fact that millions remain displaced inside and outside the country, and the lack of access to telephone networks that make it difficult to trace missing persons, the number of missing people may be higher.

“However, with about four million people displaced inside and outside of the country, and the challenges to access some areas or limited cellular networks, the number of missing people in South Sudan is probably higher,” James said.

The head of the ICRC noted that States parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance are obliged, under international law, to protect their citizens and prevent them from disappearing.

“Under international law, states have the obligation to prevent people from going missing and if people go missing, they have a responsibility to clarify their fate and whereabouts,” said the ICRC leader.

“A legal framework in South Sudan would translate the international legal obligations of the state into practical actions to register and trace missing people as well as provide support to their families,” he added.

The International Day of Missing Persons is an occasion to recall the consequences of having a missing relative and the need to build legal frameworks to support people looking for loved ones.

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