At least more than 5,700 people have been confirmed missing since the start of 2022 as result of prolonged conflict in South Sudan.
The International Committee of Red Cross Crescent (ICRC) reveals in it’s latest report issued early this week in Juba, the capital South Sudan.
“The tragedy of missing persons is a humanitarian crisis that cannot be forgotten easily but can be prevented in the nearby future,” said Sophia Marsac, the In-charge of ICRC’s program that helps people maintain contact with their loved ones.
The release of the report coincided with International Day of the Disappeared marked annually on August 29th.
The report dubbed, “I do not know where to start” is based on 181 interviews with families of the missing people, seven forecast group discussion, and two additional interviews with people previously missing related to conflict, armed violence and other crisis.
Its findings indicate that 86 percent of the families of the missing persons in and outside South Sudan know what happened to their loved ones.
In addition it notes that 60 percent of families struggle to cope with mental health-related issues and 57 percent experience economic problems.
It says that families are also finding it extremely difficult to search for their missing loved ones, adding that these challenges include legal and administrative hurdles.
“I hardly sleep, I am always thinking about him since he disappeared,” said a Bentiu resident, whose husband has been missing since 2013.
“I feel it my heart that my husband is alive. I still have hope,” She added.
ICRC says it is currently investigating and following up cases of missing persons with the South Sudan Red Cross in a bid to reunite them with their families.
It notes that the actual number of the missing people in South Sudan is probably much higher as most disappearance are not being registered or documented.
“A third of the disappeared persons registered by ICRC are children,” it says.
ICRC called on authorities to acknowledge the tragedy of the missing people and the impact on families.
It further encourages the transitional unity government to do everything in their power to prevent people from going missing, take measures to search for those who are missing and to provide information to families on the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.