ABUJA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- At least 22,000 Nigerians have been reported missing since the Boko Haram group launched its attacks a decade ago in the country's northeast region, said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday.
The figure is the highest recorded in any country by the ICRC, a prominent humanitarian organization, said Peter Maurer, its president, who is currently in Nigeria on a five-day official visit.
Nearly 60 percent of the missing persons are minors, which suggests that thousands of parents are not aware of the whereabouts of their children, Maurer said.
"Every parent's worst nightmare is not knowing where their child is. This is the tragic reality for thousands of Nigerian parents, leaving them with the anguish of a constant search," he said at the end of the five-day visit. "People have the right to know the fate of their loved ones, and more needs to be done to prevent families from being separated in the first place."
During the visit, Maurer met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, high-level government officials, the civil society and business leaders.
He also spoke to families whose relatives are missing as a result of the conflict in Maiduguri and Monguno, both in the northeastern state of Borno, the stronghold of Boko Haram.
The ICRC said it has been partnering with the Red Cross in Nigeria to trace missing persons through pictures, announcement photographs and door-to-door visits in camps and communities which resulted to 367 solved cases since its first cases in 2013.
The humanitarian organization lamented challenges in finding persons and reuniting them with their families.
Among other difficulties include the inability to access certain areas in the conflict states.
"Large swathes of the northeast of the country remain completely inaccessible to humanitarian organizations. People have also been displaced by fighting many times, making them harder to find," the ICRC president said.
Another highlighted challenge is the attacks on healthcare workers.
About a year ago, two of the organization's workers were killed by the insurgents.
"These attacks on healthcare workers are not only a violation of international humanitarian law, but also an assault on people's basic right to receive health care," Maurer added.
The uprising by the Boko Haram which commenced in 2009 had resulted in the deaths of more than 27,000 people and nearly 2 million displaced people, according to data by the United Nations.