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Rwanda: Over 1,000 children still searching for loved ones

06-07-2006 News Release 06/46

Brigitte and her twin brothers Gato and Gakuru are back together with their father after 12 years.

The three children, now in their mid-teens, became separated from him in 1996 in Congo-Kinshasa, where they then had to live for four years before being returned to Rwanda by the ICRC in 2000 and placed with a foster family. Information given by the children enabled the ICRC to eventually locate their father in western Rwanda.

Now reunited, the four can get on with the business of being a family. But there remain over a thousand Rwandan children in the country itself, across the border in the Congo, and elsewhere, who are still waiting. Most are living with foster families, hoping that either the ICRC will succeed in tracing their parents or that their loved ones, or others who know the families, will hear their names on broadcasts about each child that the organizations makes over Radio Contact FM (89.7MHz) and Radio Maria Rwanda (88.6MHz, 97.3 MHz and 99.8 MHz).

With the passage of time it grows harder for children to recall the exact names of people and places, explains Dan Rubeka, a member of the ICRC's tracing unit in Kigali. " So my colleagues and I spend a lot of time with them, hoping to elicit some detail that will lead us to their parents. "

This work has borne fruit, with 39 Rwandan children having found missing relatives so far this year. Given the numerous armed conflicts that have racked the region in recent years, much remains to be done.

    

    

 For further information, please contact:  

 Inah Kaloga, ICRC Kigali, tel. +250 577344 or +250 0830 5069  

 Catherine Mukantabana, ICRC Kigali, tel : +250 577344 or +250 0856 5596  

 Marco Jiménez, ICRC Geneva, tel : +41 22 730 2271 or +41 79 217 3217