Main Navigation

Hope for families torn apart by conflict and disaster

The Red Cross' Tracing Service helps people locate relatives missing as a result of war or disaster

Monday September 3, 2012


A name scrawled on a tattered piece of paper, a photo posted on a noticeboard in a remote refugee camp - both can hold the key for Red Cross staff and volunteers working in countries around the globe to uncover the fate of the some of the world's countless missing people.

The Red Cross' Tracing Service helps people locate relatives missing as a result of war or disaster, send messages to family members when there is no formal means of communication, and check the welfare of a relative overseas who can't be reached due to illness or other circumstances. Australian Red Cross' Tracing Service, part of this International Red Cross Red Crescent global network operating in more than 185 countries, currently has the names of hundreds of missing people on its books. Those missing were last seen in countries ranging from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to Kenya and Croatia.

This week we mark Day of the Disappeared (30 August) and Father's Day (2 September) - a time when people all over the world remember some of those that they love and some of those that they have lost.

'The Tracing Service, the only one of its kind in the world, works across international borders and for many is their last hope of ever finding their missing sisters, fathers and sons,' said Kate Jones, who heads up the Tracing program for Australian Red Cross. 'Not knowing the fate of your loved ones can be debilitating and isolating.

'Among those we have helped are families separated during World War II, who haven't had news of their loved ones for more than 50 years. We have worked with people torn apart by every almost conflict in recent history, from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Rwanda,' said Ms Jones recently returned from a three month stint in Timor Leste.

'In Timor Leste I worked with families separated during the Indonesian occupation and helped with two different reunifications involving adult sisters both separated as children. They are two amazing stories where the team used birth marks and old memories to reunite the sisters who grew up in different countries and had been separated from their families for over 30 years.'

To find out if you are eligible for Red Cross assistance, which is free, visit our website or contact your local state or territory office. We rely on committed volunteers and donors, you can support Red Cross by giving monthly, leaving a bequest in your will or making a one-off donation through our website or calling 1800 811 700.

Kate Jones is available for interview. For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with Kate contact Kim Batchelor 0457 542 113 or