The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday it had recorded nearly 44,000 people across Africa as missing, in 2020, 45% of the cases were children.

In its report released yesterday, which marks the International Day of the Disappeared, the ICRC indicated that seven countries make up 82 % of ICRC's missing caseload in Africa, namely, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon, in addition to Nigeria with the highest's cases in the continent.

More than 1,600 people have been registered by the ICRC teams in Libya, most of them went missing because of conflict and migration, said the ICRC.

"Starting in 2017, we saw a shift in which more cases were opened from abroad by families looking for their relatives in Libya, who might have entered the country on the migration route to Europe. Many of them were children," the ICRC explains.

The organization cautioned that these figures do not represent the total number of people missing in Africa, but only include those cases documented by the ICRC and national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies as missing, during the period from the beginning of this year until June 31st.

"This caseload is a drop in the ocean to the true scale of people whose family members are searching for them," said Sophie Marsac, the regional advisor for the missing and their families in Africa for the ICRC.

The organization pointed out that the Covid--19 restrictions have created new challenges in the searching process, insisting that this issue represents a humanitarian crisis that could not be ignored as the world focuses on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

It urged authorities to acknowledge the tragedy of missing people and the impact that it has on families, stressing the need to enhance search operations and take action to prevent people from going missing in the first place.