Joint ICRC-IOM press release: Responding to the needs of missing migrants and their families

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IMO) today convene the very first meeting of the Missing Migrants Watch Committee with the South African authorities.

South Africa is a major destination and transit country for migrants from the regions of eastern and southern Africa and beyond, with large numbers coming from Zimbabwe. Throughout their journey to and within the country, migrants often face intense hardship and violations of their human rights. Many lose their lives and it is not uncommon for migrants to unwittingly lose contact with their families and disappear without a trace.

In the context of the ICRC reporting that 44,000 migrants in Africa are missing, a joint initiative with IMO has, for the first time, brought together a community of interest to address the plight of the families of Zimbabwean migrants missing in the search for their loved ones.

“The family members who remain are deeply affected as they face the uncertainty of not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead. This causes great suffering and can be extremely distressing, ”explains Marie-Astrid Blondiaux who coordinates the ICRCThe protection work of, which aims to mitigate the consequences of armed conflict, violence, natural disasters and migration. “The South African authorities have the responsibility, infrastructure, legislation and technical expertise to address this humanitarian concern. This will benefit them at different levels and will highlight the high level of forensic expertise in South Africa on the world stage, ”adds Blondiaux.

On this occasion, the IMO and the ICRC unveil for the first time in South Africa a commemorative exhibition in memory of the countless missing migrants and their families.

The memorial features a series of 60 images in an incomplete puzzle with each piece of the puzzle depicting individuals who migrated from Zimbabwe to South Africa and disappeared during the journey or after arrival. These families are part of the ICRCThe Missing and Deceased Migrants program, which, with the participation of the authorities, seeks to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons, helps families restore and maintain contact and increases the rate of identification of bodies in South African and Zimbabwean morgues.

“Families of missing migrants are often faced with a never-ending search for answers, so it is crucial that states put in place efforts to support families of missing migrants in accordance with the resolution adopted by the African Commission on Human Rights. man and peoples, ”said Lily Sanya, IMOHead of Mission for South Africa.

The memorial symbolizes how families of missing migrants are connected in their search for their missing loved ones, but much like the fragmented commemorative puzzle, for families, their lives remain incomplete as the search for answers continues.

It is reported that 4,000-7,000 unidentified bodies are buried each year as poor people in South Africa. The plight of missing migrants and their families is undoubtedly a humanitarian issue that requires effort and commitment from the authorities and other actors.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

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