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Kenya: Red Cross helps trace missing family members

18-01-2008 News Release 08/10

Geneva/Nairobi (ICRC) –In the wake of Kenya's post-election violence that forced large numbers of people to flee their homes, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has helped the Kenya Red Cross to set up tracing teams in all the main affected areas.

Red Cross volunteers and counsellors have been instructed to look out for unaccompanied children and refer them to local tracing teams. The Kenya Red Cross (KRCS) has also set up a telephone hotline with numbers in seven cities and towns in the affected areas.

So far, the KRCS has registered over 150 cases of children separated from their families. Of these, more than 120 have been successfully reunited. The KRCS has also received close to 150 requests to help locate adult family members. Over 100 additional cases of separated family members were solved by KRCS staff on the spot through very simple methods such as allowing them access to Red Cross mobile phones.

" When people fled their homes during the recent violence, many families became separated. Helping families find missing loved ones is an important part of Red Cross protection work, here in Kenya and around the world, " explains Pascal Cuttat, the ICRC's head of regional delegation in Nairobi. " We are particularly concerned when this involves children separated from their families during the initial confusion or even in subsequent movements of the displaced population, " he adds.

" Another major concern for us is to ensure that the bodies of those who died in the events can be identified, " states Cuttat. " It is important for families to know the fate of these people. This is the only way they can get some closure and deal with their loss. " The ICRC dispatched two forensic experts from Geneva to provide advice and work with local authorities in the town of Eldoret to set up systems to ensure the proper identification of bodies. 

Working through the Kenya Red Cross, the ICRC has also provided food and essential household items to those affected. Joint ICRC/KRCS teams are ensuring proper water supplies and sanitation facilities for the displaced. ICRC surgical teams have been working at Eldoret's Moi hospital since the beginning of January.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel + 41 22 730 2458 or + 41 79 217 32 24
  Bernard Barrett, ICRC Nairobi, tel + 254 20 272 39 63 or + 254 722 512 728