Up to 100,000 people go missing in Russia every year, and one quarter of those people are never found.
These are the harrowing statistics revealed at the first all-Russia forum of volunteer search and rescue teams in the Moscow regional town of Krasnogorsk on Tuesday.
Agency of Strategic Initiatives Director General Svetlana Chupsheva said half of those who go missing are children.
“We would like everyone to understand the importance of volunteer search and rescue teams,” she said.
“According to various sources, 70,000 to 100,000 people go missing in Russia every year and 25% of them – up to 25,000 people – are never found.”
The Bearr Trust is a charity which assists vulnerable people in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. The charity reports there is no precise, official data on the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of missing persons in Russia.
Last year the charity announced the creation of a missing persons’ search and rescue centre in an attempt to curb the high missing persons figures. A representative from Volunteer Search and Rescue Team “Lisa Alert” said at the time there were still too many unknowns regarding missing persons in the country.
“We don’t know how many people disappear in their home environment; how many go missing in cities and how many of them are old people suffering, for example, from Alzheimer’s disease; how many children have got lost and how many have run away. The better we can understand the particular characteristics of each search, the more effectively we’ll be able to work. Armed with this information, state institutions will be able to identify and resolve problems that occur in each region,” they said.
The volunteer search and rescue forum will run until Thursday, with support from the Missing People Search Center, Agency of Strategic Initiatives, the Russian presidential children’s rights commissioner and the Moscow regional government.
Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov said there was interest to cooperate with mobile companies to find missing persons more effectively. “There is a need to cooperate with mobile companies in pinpointing the exact location of anyone missing. We are committed to using the most cutting-edge technologies,” he said.
More than 800 people are expected to take part in the three-day forum, including representatives from federal and regional authorities, major state corporations, businesses and members of regional voluntary search and rescue teams.