Friday August 3, 2007
Embargoed 12:01am Sunday August 5
Australian Red Cross has seen an increase in demand for its International tracing service as record numbers of people are forced from their homes because of conflict or disaster.
'While there has been a decrease in the number of international armed conflicts in recent years, more and more people have had to flee because of internal armed disturbances' said Robert Tickner, CEO, Australian Red Cross.
'Internal conflicts and large scale disasters around the world have isolated people from their families and loved ones' Mr Tickner said 'and the trauma of separation can continue for months or even years'.
Worldwide, there are currently 8.4 million refugees and as many as 23.7 million internally displaced people or civilians uprooted in their own countries.
Australian Red Cross' International Tracing Service aims to re-establish contact between family members who have been separated as a result of international armed conflict, internal disturbance and disaster.
'In recent weeks we have seen family reunions from Liberia and the former Yugoslavia' Mr Tickner said. 'This truly is a wonderful service and one which is offered free to anyone in the community who may have lost contact with a loved one overseas- from recent times to as far back as World War 2'.
The National Manager of International Tracing & Refugee Services at Australian Red Cross, Hang Vo, said Red Cross used its global humanitarian network to locate missing relatives, re-establish contact, bring news and reunite families.
Last year Australian Red Cross handled 2140 cases for people desperate to restore family links. During this period we were able to re-establish contact for 594 families who can now reforge bonds and live with hope.
'We know there are more cases out there but not everybody who is seeking a missing person overseas is aware that Red Cross offers this unique service,' said Ms Vo.
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 or Territory.
SA 08 8100 4642
VIC 03 8327 7883
ACT 02 6206 6015
NSW 02 9229 4175
QLD 07 3367 7282
TAS 03 6235 6029
NT 08 8924 3931
WA 08 9225 1916
Or for more information visit www.redcross.org.au