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Restoring family links: strengthening the Red Cross response

22-11-2006 News Release

The representatives of 30 National Red Cross Societies in the Americas and the Caribbean will gather in Buenos Aires from 27 to 29 November to work on a joint strategy for coping with the growing number of people who are without news of their relatives.

 The following was issued as a press release by the ICRC delegation in Buenos Aires  

Abel and Blas Ramírez Urra, who live in Neuquén, waited almost half a century to see their sister Delta again. That they finally managed to do so was thanks to cooperation between the Argentina Red Cross (ARC) and the Chilean Red Cross. The siblings had lost contact in the early 1960s, when Abel and Blas immigrated to Argentina with their parents in search of better opportunities, leaving Delta behind in Chile.

In situations of armed conflict or natural disaster, and also when people have migrated for economic reasons, as in the case of the Ramírez Urra brothers, many families end up being separated. The loss of contact is a source of pain and uncertainty.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has decided to strengthen its worldwide network in order to meet the needs of the growing number of people who are without news of a relative. To that end, delegates from 25 National Red Cross Societies in the Americas and the Caribbean and from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will take part in the regional Restoring Family Links Conference   to be held   from 27 to 29 November 2006, in Buenos Aires, under the chairmanship of the ICRC and the ARC. The outcome of the conference, and of those that have already taken place in Nairobi and Kiev as well as the one to be held in Bangkok in December, will serve to draw up a joint strategy.

" Lots of people don’t know whether their parents, brothers and sisters have fled, hav e been thrown into prison, or are lying dead in the wreckage of a building, " says Renée Zellweger Monin, deputy head of the ICRC Central Tracing Agency and Protection Division and Secretary General of the conference. " This is why the Red Cross and Red Crescent have decided to redouble their efforts to trace missing persons and restore contact between them and their families or, if they have passed away, to find out what happened. "

 For further information:  

 Lucía Corte / Cristophe Kleber, ICRC Buenos Aires, tel. ++54 11 4515 1118