The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged Colombia’s state and illegal armed groups to cooperate in the search for the tens of thousands of people who went missing during the armed conflict.
ICRC Colombia chief Christoph Harnisch made the call on Tuesday, the International Day of the Disappeared.
As a humanitarian organization, we urgently appeal to the Colombian State as well as to the various armed actors operating in the country to expedite the search for persons missing due to the armed conflict.
The humanitarian organization in Colombia is involved in extensive searches for more than 80,000 missing persons, the majority of whom would have been killed by one of the actors in the drug-fueled armed conflict that began in 1964.
According to the ICRC, this number could be even higher.
Determining the scale of this humanitarian tragedy is a pending task. Despite the under-registration due to the lack of accurate data, the phenomenon of disappearance undoubtedly has dramatic traits in Colombia.
International Committee of the Red Cross
As part of an ongoing peace process with rebel group FARC, a transitional justice system is being set up with one unit specialized in locating the missing persons and returning their remains to their loved ones.
The search for persons missing as a result of the armed conflict and other situations of violence is today the main humanitarian challenge facing Colombia.
The Colombian state has been intensely searching for missing persons since 2013 and is expected to intensify this search once the transitional justice system gathers testimonies of victimizers that would allow authorities to locate the remains of victims.