File Photo: A flag is pictured on the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a press release on Thursday saying that 22,000 people in Nigeria have been reported missing to the organisation during the 10-year conflict in the country's northeast.
This is the highest number of missing persons registered with the ICRC anywhere in the world.
Of those missing, about 60 percent were children at the time of their disappearance, many of whom are still missing.
"Families are the greatest casualty of 10 years of war in northeast Nigeria. They have been torn apart. Children have been killed and maimed in bomb blasts. Their health facilities have been ruthlessly attacked and their homes and belongings destroyed. Families belong together and above all, civilians must be spared in war,” ICRC President Peter Maurer said.
Many of those missing are from cities such as Maiduguri and Monguno, which have been highly affected by conflict.
Individuals often go missing when families try to relocate to escape violent attacks, while others have either been abducted or detained. Up to 2 million people have been internally displaced from their homes.
The ICRC says that it has been working with other branches of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent societies to attempt to locate the missing and reunite them with their loved ones, often by calling out names, holding up pictures, and organising search parties.
Since 2013, when the ICRC received its first case, the organisation has helped solve 367 missing persons cases, although many areas in the country's northeast are completely cut off from humanitarian groups.