If you think you’re having a bad day think about the more that 100,000 people around the world who have been reported missing. That’s the grim statistic from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at the end of October. The staggering number has created a global crisis.

Agnes Coutou, the organization’s protection adviser, told the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee that “this is the largest number we’ve ever had.” On top of the unimaginable number comes the report that this is only the tip of the iceberg. According to Coutou, the figure represents only a fraction of those estimated missing because of past and ongoing conflicts. 

The ICRC works with the families of missing persons and authorities in more than 40 countries affected by past and current conflicts. It also chairs five bodies trying to resolve cases of missing persons. 

Coutou says there are three factors driving the crisis: The scale of armed conflicts responsible for the substantial number of missing the “intergenerational impact” of people missing for decades on their families, and the increased internationalization of the problem. 

“Missing persons shape the history of families, communities and societies profoundly,” she said. “Such unresolved consequences of conflict that stretch over decades can hamper the prospects of peace.” 

Coutou said today’s wars involve individuals and groups from a variety of countries, which multiplies the number of people affected and involved in missing persons cases. She said the ICRC is calling for “early and preventative action” to keep people from going missing, “whether they are alive or dead.” 

We tend to see the global crisis as something most people don’t pay much attention to because they don’t hear about such horrifying numbers on a regular basis. But Coutou’s powerful address before the U.N. General Assembly should awaken any person who cares about humanity. 

We are fast approaching the holiday season. Compassionate folks in the M&M area will be pitching in to help less fortunate people in our home communities from food baskets to clothing drives and toys for children. They’ll be baking cookies and other goodies to distribute to people in need. They’ll be lifting the spirits of residents at area nursing homes with their cheerful music and songs. There will be many other meaningful exhibitions of kindness. The examples of kindness will be taking place in towns, villages and cities around the world.

Still, deep down in our hearts, we have to recognize the fact that tens of thousands of men, women and children won’t be around to benefit from these noble acts of kindness because they’re on the ICRC “missing person” list. Thank goodness we have an international agency who cares about them and continues to search for them.