Colombia's National Search Commission for Disappeared People announced, on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, that the total number of people who have been "disappeared" - i.e. made to vanish without a trace - during the course of the country's internal conflict has been at least 61,604.

The commission, which is overseen by the national ombud's office, announced in a communique that of the 61,604 known victims as of Aug. 26, 14,427 are women and 47,177 are men.

The institution had registered 47,757 cases of forced disappearance up to June 2010, but its work over the past year has brought the figure to almost 62,000.

National ombud Volmar Perez invited the public to participate in the activities related to the International Day of the Disappeared, events which will continue until Sept. 2.

Perez noted that to report a disappearance it is not necessary to wait for a specific amount of time since the person was last seen, but rather such an occurrence can be reported "immediately" with the aim of arriving at a complete tally of victims in Colombia as quickly as possible.

Colombia, which has been experiencing a prolonged internal armed conflict for almost 50 years, is among the countries with the greatest number of disappeared people, according to data compiled by the commission.