Myanmar: ICRC supports released detainees to reunite with their families

Being separated from your loved ones is a heavy burden to bear and many detainees deal with this every day. Often, the hope of being reunited with their families one day helps them cope with their tough circumstances. But upon release, many of them find their journey back home difficult because of high transport costs and unstable security conditions in some areas.

Through the Safe Return Home programme, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Myanmar supports released detainees to reach home in a safe and dignified way. Our teams meet with the released detainees and provide them with money for transport, allowance for food and temporary accommodation besides necessary information.

Between January and June 2023, we supported 1,487 people after their release from detention, helping them to reunite with their families. It is a small but significant support for those who are re-entering society.

"After being released from detention in Malaysia, we were sent back to Myanmar. We quarantined for seven days in Yangon before returning home to our villages by buses, motorbikes and boats," says U Thein*, who received support from the ICRC.


A released detainee holds a leaflet explaining the ICRC’s Safe Return Home programme.


An ICRC team in Yangon conducts a session to raise awareness about our activities across the country.


An ICRC staff member helps to distribute allowances for food, transitory accommodation and other expenses to released detainees.


A released detainee reads an ICRC leaflet with tips on how to get home safely.

A new chapter

Being able to embrace their loved ones is often the first step towards a new start for those who are released. "This is a new beginning in many ways," says Ko Min*, as he looks forward to returning to his village in Rakhine State.

Ko Min plans to rebuild his home and support his community when he gets back. He shares that his village was severely affected when Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar in early May 2023. "Some people in my community were farmers, some were daily wageworkers, and some were fishermen. The cyclone destroyed all our means of earning livelihoods. I am just thankful that my family is safe even though it has been a very difficult time," he says.

Despite the continued suspension of visits to prisons, the ICRC in Myanmar provides some support to inmates and their families through services such as helping families clarify the whereabouts of missing relatives when they are believed to be detained, helping families travel to prisons and safely deliver parcels to their loved ones and helping released detainees return home safely.

*Names changed to protect identity.