Missing people and the desperate search by those left behind

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Owing to mass migration, conflict, political instability and natural disasters, millions of people go missing every year. While many eventually reach their destinations and maintain contact with their families, those that don’t are often lost and forgotten to the world.

As of July 2020, African families from 41 countries were looking for more than 6 000 missing relatives thought to be in Africa or Europe. About 80% of those missing originate from 11 countries alone. These are Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan. More than 28% of them are children.

The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August was first marked globally following an official declaration by the United Nations a decade ago. Originally it recognised the plight of people forcibly disappeared, including through arrest, detention and abduction. Today it has evolved to include those missing from their homes and families for a range of reasons.

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