Mexico’s official figure of missing people on Monday surpassed 100,000 for the first time as families pushed authorities to do more to find victims of violence linked to organized crime.
Government data, which goes back to 1964, shows that almost all the disappearances have occurred since 2007 when then-President Felipe Calderón launched his “war on drugs”.
The United Nations has called it “a human tragedy of enormous proportions”. Many of the missing are victims of organized crime and hardly any of those responsible are punished.
The latest update to the national registry of missing people kept by Mexico’s attorney general’s office shows that over the past two years, the number of disappeared people has risen from 73,000 to more than 100,000.
Three quarters of those reported missing were men and one-fifth were under the age of 18 at the time of their disappearance. Relatives of the disappeared say that the government is not doing enough to find them and that officials are indifferent when they report their loved ones missing. Many have however taken matters into their own hands, digging up unmarked graves in the hopes of finding the remains of their loved ones.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recognizes the important progress that has been made by Mexico to raise the issue of the missing and identify the dead, and to help alleviate the pain of families missing a loved one, and at the same time, calls for more effective implementation of the immediate measures serving to increase their chances of finding their loved one alive.
The Forensic Medical Services and the newly created Identification Centers in Mexico also contribute to the rights of families to know the truth. As these institutions increase the number of forensic identifications, it reduces the number of unidentified people kept in Mexico’s public cemeteries and temporary holding areas, by the tens of thousands.