By Whitney Daniela, volunteer contributor, Red Cross DFW
After the dust settles from the horrors of war or calming winds follow the fierceness of a natural disaster, people immediately look to rebuild. The process starts to reshape cities and villages by reconstructing homes, schools, hospitals and other structures. But sometimes forgotten are families that have been torn apart by these conflicts. When tragedy strikes, it is not just property or societal structures that need to be restored but families, as well. The people affected by these events are in unimaginable distress. The confusion and chaotic environment that is left after a disaster are heightened once the anxiety of being separated from loved one’s has set in.
Many people find themselves being uprooted from their homes and resettled in various places seeking shelter, medical assistance, and safety. These separations cause relatives to lose contact for days, months and even years. After fleeing their countries under dire circumstances, victims of these tragedies are left in fear and with the difficult task of trying to reconnect with little-to-no means. This is where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has become true hope and haven for so many around the world by help them to connect with their next of kin and bring them together. We call it Restoring Family Links.
The ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies work together around the world to locate people and put them back into contact with their relatives. This work includes looking for family members, restoring contact, reuniting families and seeking to clarify the fate of those who remain missing.
Since 2013, over 60,000 people have been given aid and resources that helped to find long lost relatives who were displaced in South Sudan. ICRC has worked in other countries such as Ecuador and Nigeria by using email registrars and placing phone calls in the hopes of finding those who are missing. They create lists of all those that are still trying to reconnect and then cross reference the names to ones that have registered in other shelters or are deceased. In some circumstances, volunteers go door-to-door in communities and gather information from survivors to track cases individually. The support provided by ICRC brings promise in trying circumstances to people who may not otherwise get assistance.
Established in 1863, the ICRC operates worldwide, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organization, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. We are based in Geneva, Switzerland, and employ some 14,500 people in more than 80 countries. The ICRC is funded mainly by voluntary donations from governments and from national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.