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People disappear for many reasons. Some individuals choose to disappear alone; most of these soon return Reasons for non-identification may include:
- To escape domestic abuse by a parent(s)/guardian(s)/sibling(s)/spouse.
- Leaving home to live somewhere else under a new identity.
- Becoming the victim of kidnapping.
- Abduction (of a minor) by a non-custodial parent or other relative.
- Seizure by government officials without due process of law.
- Suicide in a remote location or under an assumed name (to spare their families the suicide at home or to allow their deaths to be eventually declared in absentia).
- Victim of murder (body disguised, destroyed, or hidden).
- Mental illness or other ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease can cause someone to become lost or they may not know how to identify themselves due to long-term memory loss that causes them to forget where they live, the identity of family members or relatives, or their own names.
- Death by natural causes (disease) or accident far from home without identification.
- Disappearance to take advantage of better employment or living conditions elsewhere.
- Sold into slavery, serfdom, sexual servitude, or other unfree labour.
- To avoid discovery of a crime or apprehension by law-enforcement authorities. (See also failure to appear.)
- Joining a cult or other religious organization.
- To avoid war or persecution during a genocide.
- To escape famine or natural disaster.
- Death by floods, flash floods, debris flows, hurricanes and tsunamis.
- Accidental drowning in open water, with no body recovered.
- Homicide involving water, with no body recovered
- Suicide in water, when the body disappears and is not recovered.
Categories of Missing Children
- Runaways (national / international): Minors who run away from home, from the institution where they have been placed, or from the people responsible for their care
- Abduction by a third person: Abduction of minors by anyone other than the parents or the persons with parental authority.
- National or international parental abduction: Parental abductions are cases where a child is taken to or kept in a country or place other than that of his/her normal residence by one or more parents or persons with parental authority, against another parent’s will or against the will of the person with parental authority.
- Missing unaccompanied migrant minors: Disappearances of migrant children, nationals of a country in which there is no free movement of persons, under the age of 18 who have been separated from both parents and are not being cared for by an adult, who by law is responsible for doing so.
- Lost, injured or otherwise missing children: Disappearances for no apparent reason of minors who got lost (e.g. young children at the seaside in summer) or hurt themselves and cannot be found immediately (e.g. accidents during sport activities, at youth camps, etc.), as well as children whose reason for disappearing has not yet been determined.