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Rwanda: "Do you know this child?" - Third series

26-06-1998 News Release 98/25

The ICRC yesterday published its third series of photos of very young unaccompanied children in an attempt to trace their families. The series consists of 1,000 photos divided into two booklets. Two thousand five hundred copies of each have been printed and will be distributed throughout Rwanda to local authorities, health-care facilities, churches and organizations involved in tracing and reuniting separated families.

Jean Wenker is coordinator of the ICRC's tracing operation in Rwanda. He explained that anyone looking at the photos who sees a child he believes is related to him is asked to contact the nearest ICRC office and to supply it with details about the child's physical characteristics and habits. This information is then compared with the data already recorded by the staff of organizations in contact with the child. This is the first stage in checking the child's identity. If the information matches, the relatives go to the centre where the child they identified in the album is living. " They often recognize their child among all the others at the centre, which eliminates any remaining doubt " , says Wenker. " There are also cases in which the parents of one child recognize another one belonging to a relative, a friend or a neighbour. So the programme works in an indirect as well as a direct fashion. "

The programme, entitled " Do you know this child? " , began in May 1997 with the publication of the first booklet of 242 photos, each showing a child too young to provide the information needed to find his family. A second booklet – this time with 440 photos – followed in November. So far, the programme has made it possible to reunite 419 young child ren with members of their families. Of these, 223 had had their photos published in one of the first two booklets. The remaining 196 were found by indirect means, as described above.