Missing persons and the ICRC Family Links website – questions and answers

1. What is the ICRC's Family Links website and who is it for?

The Family Links website helps people contact relatives who have become missing persons because of a conflict or natural disaster.

2. How does the Family Links website help find missing persons?

If you’re looking for a missing person, you register the name of the missing person, together with your own contact details.

If your relatives are looking for you, you register your name and say how your relatives can contact you.

You can use the site whether you’re inside or outside the area affected by the disaster or conflict.

The ICRC and National Societies will try to match up:

  • people looking for a missing person

with

  • missing people who have registered on the site

and will contact people when necessary and possible.

If you don’t have Internet access, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and ICRC delegations around the world can help you post this information.

When we create a missing persons page for a particular crisis, we use the language or languages spoken in the area affected. For example, the page for the Haiti earthquake was in Creole, English, French and Spanish.

The information on the Family Links site is not confidential. Anyone with Internet access can consult it, anywhere in the world.

We keep the information on the Family Links site up to date. For example, names are removed once families have reconnected, or sadly, if a death is confirmed.

Neither the ICRC nor the National Societies ask for money when tracing family members!

3. Who manages the Family Links website?

The ICRC manages the Family Links website in cooperation with Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The individual missing persons country pages remain active for as long as they are needed. In some instances, this means several years, as in the cases of Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Nepal. We take other missing persons pages down sooner, especially those we have set up to help find people missing because of a natural disaster.

Obviously, technology is not enough. Working closely alongside people affected by conflict, violence and disaster remains the most important aspect of our work. So the Family Links website is backed by a network of staff and volunteers around the world who help people restore contact with relatives who are missing.

4. Who can I contact if I want to find a missing relative?

If the person you are looking for went missing in one of the countries listed on the Famiily Links site, register them there.

If the person you are looking for went missing in a country not listed on the Family Links site, please contact either:

  • The tracing services of the Red Cross or Red Crescent Society in the country where you are now.

or

  • The ICRC delegation or office in the country where you are now.

5. How else does the ICRC help people whose relatives are missing?

We:

  • trace people who have disappeared;
  • register and keep track of people (including detainees) to prevent their disappearance, and tell their families where they are;
  • reunite families;
  • help family members get in touch by phone or via written messages;
  • collect and manage information on the dead.

For more information about how the ICRC reunites families, please visit Reuniting families.