Main Navigation


Red Cross everyday work


Burundi, 1993: In the dark of the night, gunfire and screams fill the air and get louder with each passing minute. Danger is closing in. As the fighting reaches her village, Melania has no choice but to run, not knowing who is beside her or what lies ahead.

Melania trudges the last steps of the way to the Mkugwa Refugee Camp in Tanzania where she will live for the next 11 years of her life, separated from her family and the only home she had known.

Melania's experiences are like so many others. More than 48 million people are displaced around the world as a result of persecution and conflict.

However, thousands are still missing.

Days became weeks, months and years. Yet at no time did Melania lose hope of finding the people she loved with all her heart. She enlisted the help of Red Cross. It would prove to be the breakthrough she'd longed for.

Our global network places us in a unique position to locate people. Red Cross' principle of impartiality also means we have access in the most difficult of circumstances such as in areas of conflict, disaster zones, refugee camps and places of detention.

To begin the search from Australia, a handwritten letter by Melania and a photo were sent in an open Red Cross envelope to the family's last known Burundi address.

Finally Melania's letter had made its way from the other side of the world, into her mother's hands who responded immediately and Melania was just as excited. In fact, as soon as a phone number arrived, Melania wasted no time dialling. The joy of that moment is something that they will never forget.

Mother and daughter heard each other's voices for the first time in 13 years.

It costs approximately $1,500 a year for Red Cross to try and trace a person. This is just one part of the work we do and we cannot do it without you.

Donate now


Around the world last year, 254,960 Red Cross Messages were collected and distributed to locate 4,128 missing people and reunite 1,063 family members.

In the past 12 months alone, Red Cross has re-established contact for 198 families.

Donate now