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Jordan: ICRC opens tracing office in refugee camp

26-09-2012 News Release 12/192

Amman (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today opened an office in Al Zaatari camp, located near Mafraq, 80 kilometres north-east of Amman, to help Syrian refugees accommodated there to restore or maintain contact with family members. Although tracing services have been offered by the ICRC delegation in Amman since the onset of the Syrian crisis, there had not previously been an office offering the services within the camp.

"When people flee a conflict zone they can easily lose track of one another, and if they cross an international border it can be especially hard for them to get back in touch," said Catherine Gendre, the head of the ICRC delegation in Amman. "By offering this service, the ICRC wants to put an end to the anguish and uncertainty of parents and their children, spouses, siblings and other close relatives."

The office will give refugees the opportunity to contact their relatives – whether in Syria, in third countries or in other locations within Jordan – by telephone or hand-written Red Cross messages. It will also register and keep track of vulnerable individuals such as unaccompanied minors with a view to informing their families of their whereabouts. Refugees will be able to ask the ICRC to trace missing relatives. The ICRC may also be able to help contact the authorities if a missing relative is believed to be detained.

"It is not only food and water that we need in order to survive; we also need information about our loved ones back home," said Majd, a 26-year-old Syrian who has found refuge in Al Zaatari camp. "The chance to make free phone calls will bring relief not only to most people in the camp, but also to their relatives outside."

The ICRC has been working since 1967 in Jordan, where its main activities consist in visiting detainees, helping civilians and foreign detainees to restore contact with family members, and promoting international humanitarian law throughout Jordanian society in close cooperation with the Jordan National Red Crescent Society. The ICRC delegation in Amman also provides logistical support for ICRC relief operations in the region and beyond.

For further information, please contact:
Hala Shamlawi, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 777 398 794


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