Ten years of Conflict: Restoring Family Link Services for Syrian Refugees in Za'atari Camp

Za’atari is 5.3 square kilometers and lies some 10 km east of the Mafraq Governorate of Jordan. It houses a refugee camp, established in July 2012, to accommodate those fleeing from the armed conflict in Syria. When it was first opened, it reportedly had *15’000 persons and in 2018, considered the worst year of the Syrian humanitarian crisis, its population was said to have hit *78’000. Today, the camp ranks as probably the largest for Syrian refugees anywhere in the world.
Article 14 March 2021 Jordan Syria

The ICRC provides various services to Syrian refugees in Jordan, in partnership with the Jordan Red Crescent Society (JRCS). One of these services is known as the “Restoring Family Links” program, popularly called RFL. It involves efforts made to locate persons missing due to an armed conflict and putting them back into contact with their loved ones. In the course of doing this, the ICRC and JRCS trace people, facilitate an exchange of family messages between them, reunite missing family members and seek to clarify the fate of those who remain missing.

To ensure that more people know about this service and therefore take advantage of it to locate missing family members, it is always important to explain what it is about, how it is undertaken, and of course to publicize it. Recently, therefore, the ICRC and the JRCS were in Za’atari to film aspects of their work under the RFL program. Those involved were Sebastien Bole Besancon (Protection Coordinator of the ICRC in Jordan) and Mamdouh Alhadid (Under-Secretary-General of the JRCS). The outcome of that effort is a 7’ documentary feature now available on Twitter.

 As we continue to reflect on the Syrian crisis, this video explains one of the activities we undertake under the Restoring Family Links (RFL) Programme in favor of #Syrian#refugees in Jordan @_JNRCS. pic.twitter.com/OKQu4sHsJy


*All figures are from open sources and not from the ICRC or JRCS.

 Despite restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in Jordan in 2020 and to enable refugees to maintain or re-establish contact with their families and loved ones, the ICRC and JRCS continued their work under the RFL program and were able to serve1’829 Syrian refugees through a rapidly established remote RFL service, allowing these refugees to call the ICRC and be connected to their families anywhere in the world.