West Africa: Massive poster campaign to find parents of unaccompanied children
08-01-2003 News Release 03/03
The conflicts in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire have turned tens of thousands of Liberians into refugees in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
Over 1,000 of these refugees are children who have become separated from their families. Working with the Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS), the ICRC has registered and photographed them in the hope of finding their parents or families in Liberia.
Hundreds of such pictures are now displayed on large posters in 115 places in Liberia – camps for displaced persons, host communities, markets, schools and hospitals. Relatives who recognize a child on a poster can contact the nearest LNRCS volunteer or the ICRC. Once the family relationship is verified on a computer database, relatives can write Red Cross messages to their children in Sierra Leone or Guinea, and if bo th sides agree the ICRC can reunite the children with their families in Liberia.
A phone system to help families get back in touch was set up in December 2002 in Nonah camp, near N'zérékoré (south-east Guinea), for some 1,400 refugees from Côte d’Ivoire. Over 50 families were contacted by relatives in the camp – a successful operation that will continue.
Further information: Juan Martinez, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++41 22 730 2281