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Family links severed due to war or disaster - Red Cross can help YOU

Sunday July 31, 2005

This National Missing Persons Week (31 July - 6 August), Red Cross is urging people whose family links were severed due to war, conflict or natural disaster to access its International Tracing Service.

The National Manager of International Tracing & Refugee Services at Australian Red Cross, Hang Vo said today that the global humanitarian organisation works to locate missing relatives, establish contact, bring news and reunite families.

Ms Vo said last year the organisation was successful in restoring family links for 397 people.

She said, 'Most people who are reunited with loved ones experience joy, contentment and relief. But not everybody who is seeking a missing person overseas is aware that Red Cross offers this unique service.'

In early 2004, a Somali woman living in Darwin named Fatuma came to Red Cross. She had not seen or heard from her father for fourteen years, when fighting forced them both to flee Somalia. When Fatuma came to Australia last year, she was told Red Cross could help.

In June 2004, Fatuma received a Red Cross Message from her father. He had been living all this time in a Kenyan refugee camp. It was a joyful moment for both of them.

'If you have been separated from loved ones due to war, conflict or natural disaster, Red Cross may be able to help you,' Ms Vo said.

Last year Australian Red Cross handled 1,249 cases for people desperate to restore family links. This included 760 new inquiries sent to Australia from partner national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world. During this period 675 cases were closed, with 397 (58.8 per cent) successfully resolved.

In the same period, Australian Red Cross received and sent 839 Red Cross Messages. These are unsealed letters containing family news in areas where the postal service is not operational, or where family members are detained because of a conflict and have no other means of communication.

If contact with a family member or a relative has been lost due to war, conflict or disaster, contact the Australian Red Cross Tracing Service in your State of Territory.