Red Cross says it’s flooded by missing requests for Syrians

Maurer said some of the missing may have died, some may be in prison and some may have fled

United Nations: The International Committee of the Red Cross has been “flooded” with about 13,000 requests in the last six months from Syrians looking for missing family members, its president said Wednesday.


Before then, Peter Maurer told a small group of journalists, the organisation had gotten only “requests in the hundreds.” In the first three or four years of the conflict, it received between 30 and 50 tracing requests a month, he said.

Maurer said inquiries on the missing have come from all areas of Syria, neighbouring countries, Europe, the United States and the rest of the world.

With the conflict now in its eighth year, the Red Cross chief said the surge in requests is probably related to Syrians returning to “precariously stable” places in the country where there is no active combat and worrying about family members. He said the organisation has also been “slightly more pro-active” on the issue of missing Syrians.

Maurer said the Red Cross has had very limited success so far in reuniting family members, with “numbers are in the tens to fifties rather than in the thousands.”

“So we recognise and we want to beef up our capacities to look in much more details to these requests,” he said.

Maurer said some of the missing may have died, some may be in prison and some may have fled.

The Red Cross has access to prisons, but in Syria it can only go into official detention facilities – state-run prisons, he said.

“We don’t have access to security detention facilities of the army and the secret services,” Maurer said.

“Neither do we have access at the present moment to detention facilities of the opposition.”

He said the matter of missing Syrians also links to the issue of foreigners who went to fight in Syria and Iraq with extremist groups, including Daesh and Al Qaida.

Maurer said the Red Cross has been able to visit opposition fighters held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria and opposition fighters in Iraq as well as their families who are being held in camps.

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