(FinalCall.com) – Have you seen Joriel M. Boykins? She’s a sweet faced 9-year-old with almond eyes, caramel-colored complexion, pierced ears with braids and ribbons. She was last seen with her mother in New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina.
What about 6-year-old twins Randy and Ramon McGrew? They look to be fraternal, with Ramon having a darker complexion than Randy. Both have inquisitive eyes and have been missing in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.
Joriel, Randy and Ramon are three of the nearly 2,000 children still missing after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Where are the children?
That’s the question the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has asked in several speeches around the country. He repeated it during his keynote address to the Millions More Movement mass assembly on Oct. 15.
“No one seems to know where they are. That is a crime of great proportions in a country where, I recently learned 70,000 children from poor nations around the globe are here in sex slavery,” he said. “Where are our children? Can we stand by and allow it to be said that 2,500 of our babies are missing and we will not rise up, as a people, to demand to know where our children are? That is an ugly picture, Brothers and Sisters, and those kinds of pictures will continue until and unless we see the need to organize and mobilize.”
As of Oct. 25, the number of missing children from hurricanes Katrina and Rita had dropped from nearly 5,000 to 1,676, according to data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCME).
“We just don’t know where these children are,” Ben Ermini, executive director for Case Management Operations for NCME, told The Final Call. “They may be in shelters, foster care or with relatives in other states. Some may be deceased. We don’t know.”
Another question plagues the minds of many observers: How did the children get separated from their parents?
“A number of buses took people from the Astrodome to Houston, San Antonio and now they can be found in 48 states. Children were separated from their parents as they were put on the buses,” Mr. Ermini explained. “One parent was sent somewhere in Louisiana and another parent was sent to Arkansas.”
He also noted that approximately 30,000 people were housed in shelters, but there was not any attempt to list them.
On Sept. 5, the NCMEC established the Katrina Missing Persons Hotline (1-888-544-5475) at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. Since then, more than 30,000 phone calls have been logged related to separate families and missing persons.
The number of reports to NCMEC of children separated from their families due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita had climbed to 4,875. However, the number of families reunited is also increasing, with more than 3,199 cases resolved.
The NCMEC website lists the children, their descriptions and last known whereabouts. The site receives somewhere between 10 million to 20 million hits per day, across 220 countries.