The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it has managed to find a third of missing and deceased migrants reported to the organisation by their families, thanks to its partnership with Interpol.
In an interview with 263Chat on the sidelines of a handover and signing ceremony of equipment donated to Interpol, ICRC family links field officer, Unita Ndou said the committee has been working with Interpol to link families with their ‘missing’ relatives.
“We have been working with Interpol which is connected to all countries in the world and if ever a case is reported to them they are able to escalate to other countries so that they are able to find answers which is why it is important to us to support authorities in finding answers for families who have relatives that are missing.
“We have since the inception of the programme had 135 being reported to us that is as far as we have so the rest of the cases we are now channeling them through Interpol and all that we have collected, we also send to Interpol. Of the third that we found the bulk of them are alive, I think we found three cases as deceased persons and this own its own actually helps families to find closure because what they need are answers.
“As long as they don’t know what has happened they will keep searching, they keep asking themselves what has happened to this person but answers on their own bring healing to their families whether negative or positive,” said Ndou.
She said migrants go missing as a result of the routes and challenges they face whilst crossing into South Africa.
“There are quite a number of reasons why migrants go missing, I will give an example of people that I met in Pretoria, these are mentally challenged people that met some circumstances which were not so good when they were trying to go to South Africa and they are mentally unstable now and South Africa is housing these people in safe houses.
“The other thing is that migrants go missing because of migration routes that they take they are vulnerable to wild animals, they can be attacked by wild animals. There are cases of migrants drowning in Limpopo River and South African police have actually picked quite a number of bodies of migrants and migrants do not travel with any documents with them so it is very difficult for the police to try and identify them and this how they get missing.” she said.
Meanwhile, ICRC donated Information Technology (IT) worth more than US$25 000 to the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Harare.
The equipment which consists of 12 desktops, five laptops and scanners is aimed at help the organisation in the collection and transmission of data of cases of missing and deceased migrants around the world.