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Rwanda: Helping lost children find their parents

07-08-1997 News Release 97/30

In the hope of reuniting some families split up by war, the ICRC and UNHCR are currently arranging for scores of Rwandan parents to visit two centres for unaccompanied children.

In June the ICRC, in cooperation with UNICEF, published a 44-page booklet with photos of 220 unaccompanied children who came back to Rwanda last November. Most of them are under six years of age, and therefore unable to give their names or accurate information about their families.

Since the 2,500 copies of the booklet were distributed throughout Rwanda, families from all over the country have been coming forward, and it is believed that all but a dozen of the children have been identified. The ICRC and UNHCR are currently providing transport for about 20 families at a time to the two institutions caring for the children so that a second, on-site identification can be carried out. The operation started in late July and will continue until mid-August. Thus far some 40 families have been reunited with their offspring thanks to the photo-tracing programme.

Since last November's massive repatriations the ICRC and other agencies, such as Save the Children, have managed to reunite about 80 per cent of the returning unaccompanied children with their families.