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Liberia: Children reunited with their families

19-02-2004 News Release 04/21

Since last November, when it resumed its cross-border family reunification operations, the ICRC has returned 146 Liberian children to their families in Montserrado, Margibi and Bong counties.

Most of these children, who had fled the war in Liberia, were living in refugee camps in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

At present, the ICRC is handling the cases of 2,000 Liberian children separated from their families by the war. All its delegations in West Africa share information on these children and work together to trace their relatives. If a family member recognizes a child in a photo, the information he or she provides is compared with information supplied by the child. Once the family link is established, the relative is invited to write a Red Cross message to the child and may ask to be reunited with him or her.

The ICRC is currently bringing 15 to 20 children back home to their families in Liberia each week. The children are flown in from Guinea and Sierra Leone on an aircraft that has been used for this purpose since February 2001. By the end of this month the plane will be replaced by a larger one. The ICRC is also offering former child combatants living in interim care centres in Monrovia the possibility of getting back in touch with their families upcountry. These children are also reunited with their families if both sides agree.

Since last October the ICRC has been expanding its tracing activities in the countryside and Red Cross tracing stations can now be found in all of Liberia’s 15 counties. About 200 volunteers from the Liberian National Red Cross Society are taking part in the programme.

 For further information, please contact: Virginia de la Guardia, ICRC Monrovia, tel. ++ 377 47 528 089