BOGOTA – The number of missing persons in Colombia has risen to 79,000, according to an official tally cited by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“As of January 2016, around 79,000 people were missing based on the records of the Sirdec (Information Network on Missing Persons and Corpses),” the ICRC said in a report – released Thursday – on the Andean nation’s humanitarian situation and challenges in 2016.
It said there was no precise figure on those missing as a direct result of the armed conflict, although “they are believed to total over 45,000 based on figures from the consolidated Register of Victims.”
Those numbers “exceed those of any other country in the hemisphere and those of the majority of recent armed conflicts worldwide.”
In the report, the ICRC said that, despite the government’s ongoing peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group, the country was experiencing the same levels of violence as in previous years.
In particular, the ICRC underscored “the high incidence of death threats, disappearances and sexual violence in 2015.”
The ICRC, however, said it welcomed an agreement reached last October between President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and the FARC, which have been holding peace talks in Havana for more than three years, “to take immediate steps to find missing persons.”
Noting that it works with the authorities, the FARC, and the families of the victims to help bring about progress in this search, the ICRC renewed its appeal to the parties to “speed up implementation of the agreement.”
Along those lines, the ICRC on Thursday published a separate report titled “No los olvidamos” (We Haven’t Forgotten Them), which was based on interviews with relatives of missing persons and shows the impact those disappearances have had on households and communities.