ICRC, NBC Left Field explore plight of families of missing migrants in new series

"The Missing" is the humanitarian organization's first collaboration with NBC News' experimental video unit, NBC Left Field

19 February 2019

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and NBC News have teamed up for the first time to explore the devastating human toll on the global migration issue.

The five-episode series, entitled, The Missing, premieres this week. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Matthew Cassel, the films were shot in five countries – Honduras, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Senegal and Zimbabwe – and focus on the shattered lives of those left behind.

"Migration is one of the most important issues of our time, and I hope to show that through personal stories of those who've been affected most: families of the missing," said Cassel.

An unknown number of people go missing along migration routes year after year, with their locations never traced and their bodies never found. Families are left in the despair of not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. These disappearances constitute one of the world's most complex and underreported humanitarian challenges.

"The ICRC is currently searching for 100,000 missing persons, but that's a fraction of the people missing worldwide," said Florence Anselmo, the head of Central Tracing Agency. "They come from all over the world, some disappeared during a war, while others have gone missing along migration routes in search of a better or safer future."

"The Missing" reveals the heartbreaking stories of people desperate for answers. From a family in Beirut who found tragedy on the waters of the Aegean Sea, to a mother in rural Zimbabwe whose daughter left seeking a better life in South Africa, and was never heard from again. The five stories are unique, but the pain of losing a child, a sibling, a friend is universal.

As a humanitarian organization, the ICRC neither encourages nor discourages migration. "Our job is to advocate for States to abide by their commitments under international law and put in place policies that reduce the risk for migrants to die, go missing or lose contact with their families," said Gwenaelle Fontana, the ICRC global advisor on migration issues. "It is urgent that countries of origin, transit and destination work together to prevent disappearances, clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing persons and, thereby, put an end to the plight of their families."

>> To watch the series, check out NBC Left Field.


Christoph Hanger, changer@icrc.org +41 79 574 06 36

Jenni Smout, jsmout@icrc.org +41 22 730 32 22

Emily Passer, Emily.passer@nbcuni.com +1 212-413-5544