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Restoring family links

Conflict and disasters leave more than physical wounds: in the turmoil, panic and terror, family members can be separated in minutes, sometimes leading to long years of anguish and uncertainty about the fate of children, spouses or parents. Trying to locate people, and put them back into contact with their relatives, is a major challenge for the ICRC and the national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. The work includes tracing people, exchanging family messages, reuniting families and seeking to clarify the fate of those who remain missing. Read full overview

Facts and Figures

In 2012, the ICRC:

  • handled more than 279,000 Red Cross messages enabling family members to exchange news – 50,000 of these messages were to or from detainees;
  • facilitated 227,500 phone calls between family members;
  • registered over 3,500 unaccompanied/separated children, including 597 former child soldiers;
  • reunited more than 2,300 children with their families.

Also during 2012, the ICRC launched its new RFL website, familylinks.icrc.org, which guides visitors to the RFL services of the ICRC and of the National Societies in 149 countries. The site also contains the names of 21,000 people still being sought by their relatives in connection with the conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Nepal and Somalia.

Over 720,000 people contacted ICRC offices around the world for advice or services related to protection and family links.

Publications More publications

Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine