Amman (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched an Arabic version of its Restoring Family Links website www.familylinks.icrc.org, to make it easier for people in the Middle East and North Africa to find loved ones separated by conflict, migration or natural disasters.
Click the map to see how the ICRC and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are helping restore family links in the Middle East and North Africa
"For those thousands of families all over the region who are going through the agony of not knowing where their loved ones are or whether they are safe, being able to access this information in Arabic will make it that bit easier to make the contact or get the information they are desperately seeking," said the ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini.
The website, which currently exists in English, French and Spanish versions, has had nearly 900,000 page views since it was first set up in 2012. However following the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal on 25 April, it saw more than a million views within 72 hours, and more than 1,700 people registered names of relatives whom they had lost contact with.
The ICRC works closely with Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to search for missing persons, restore contact between families and bring them together again. The ICRC also seeks to prevent separation and disappearance and clarify the fate of persons reported missing.
Staff listen to families' anxieties, take requests to try and locate people who have disappeared, and search in all ways possible to find answers. They transmit Red Cross messages and facilitate visits to detainees by their families and video phone calls between detainees and their relatives.
In the Middle East, for example, working with the Jordan Red Crescent Society, in 2014 the ICRC helped 37,000 Syrian refugees in Al-Zaatari and Al-Azraq camps restore contact with family members in Syria and abroad by making international phone calls available to them.
www.familylinks.icrc.org plays a crucial role in providing information on services available, contact details of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in each country, and even the electronic means to access the services and transmit tracing requests. For certain emergencies and crises the website further contains lists of names of persons missing, photos of persons looking for their loved ones, and names of people who are safe and well.
"This will be a vital link in a time when so many people are being uprooted by conflict and plunged into the depths of uncertainty," Mr Mardini said. He called on State institutions, international and non-governmental organizations and media to help make the site and the ICRC's Restoring Family Links services known to the people who are in desperate need of help in tracing their loved ones.
For further information, please contact:
Hala Shamlawi, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 777 398 794
Hiba Salaheddin Ahmad Salti, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 777 37 65 94
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