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Nigeria accounts for half of missing persons in Africa – FG

OVER 23,000 persons have disappeared in Nigeria under various circumstances, including insurgency and kidnapping, in less than a decade, the Federal Government has said.

The figure represents half of those missing in Africa within the same period, said the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu.

Edu disclosed this while speaking at an event to mark the International Day of the Disappeared at the National Human Rights Commission on August 30.

Represented by the Director of Humanitarian Affairs, Ali Grema, the minister noted that a more efficient mechanism was needed to improve the reporting and forensically trace cases of missing persons in the country.

“In Nigeria, it’s reported that in less than a decade, more than 25,000 persons are registered as missing by the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) as a result of the insurgency in the North East. This represents half the number of missing persons in the whole of Africa.

“Today, over 23,000 persons are still missing. However, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg, as a more efficient mechanism is needed to improve the reporting and forensically trace cases of missing persons. To date, the exact number of people going missing in the country is not yet determined,” Edu said.

She promised to ensure the domestication of international treaties and instruments using a whole society and government approach and argued that the strategy would strengthen the country’s mechanism to address issues of missing persons effectively and efficiently.

This is not the first time the ministry’s official complained about the lack of an efficient system to capture the actual number of missing persons in Nigeria. The former minister, Sadiya Farouk, in January 2023, said the country lacked an official register of missing persons.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Nasir Gwarzo, Farouk said, “Currently, Nigeria has no national structure or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to address humanitarian consequences of disappearances”.

“To date, there is no reliable national data on the number of missing persons in Nigeria because there is no official register.

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“It is very understandable why Nigeria as a country and this ministry is very concerned about this often-neglected and tragic humanitarian and social issue,” she added.



    Also, a report by the ICRC in 2022 said Nigeria accounted for the most missing persons ever registered by the organisation.

    The report showed that 25,000 out of 64,000 missing persons are from Nigeria.

    The head of the ICRC Nigeria delegation, Yann Bonzon, said, “These are numbers of cases that have been registered with the ICRC and Nigerian Red Cross Society. We know that this number is likely just the tip of the iceberg”.

    Bonzon added, “The ICRC know that no fewer than 13,000 families in Nigeria are seeking missing loved ones”.


    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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